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Thiago made his long-awaited return for Liverpool in the match.
The final Premier League game of 2020 took place tonight after what was a strange, unprecedented year. Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool befittingly took to the stage as they faced Newcastle in St. James’ Park.
Liverpool had the chance to go 5 points clear – momentarily – of their nearest rivals, Manchester United, with a win tonight. Newcastle, on the other hand, could create some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
Liverpool suffered a shock draw to West Brom last time out. Tonight would be a similar story as the Reds were unable to penetrate a formidable Newcastle defence. The match finished 0-0, but there was no lack of entertainment on display.
After a period of both teams settling into the match, Newcastle had the first real opportunity just past the 11-minute mark. Callum Wilson skinned Nathaniel Phillips and continued his run into the Liverpool box before shooting from an acute angle. His shot, though, was blocked by Fabinho and went out for a corner.
Callum Wilson was then involved in another good opportunity for Newcastle. He played in DeAndre Yedlin after good build up in the final third but the American full back scuffed his shot to the relief of Liverpool.
Liverpool had an opportunity of their own in the 24th minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold was highly involved throughout. He whipped a pinpoint crossfield ball out to Sadio Mane before the former found himself receiving the ball in the box, but his shot was tame and the keeper produced a straightforward save.
Mohamed Salah doesn’t miss too many but he missed the chance of the half in the 33rd minute. He managed to stay onside and was played through in acres of space. He closed in on the keeper but his shot was brilliantly saved by the fingertips of Karl Darlow before going out for a corner.
Robert Firmino had a good chance in the dying embers of the first half. He met a cross into the box with his head but again Karl Darlow was at hand to keep the score level.
No further chances of note occurred in a first half that finished 0-0. Liverpool would have been disappointed going into the second half level with Newcastle. Their decisiveness and cutting edge in key moments let them down on more than one occasion.
The second half started in an end-to-end fashion with both teams attacking at will. As was the story of the match to that point, though, neither team was able to fashion quality chances.
Salah missed another great opportunity in the 65th minute. He was played in by Roberto Firmino before taking a good touch inside the area to make space but his resulting shot placed wide of the post.
Just moments later, Firmino missed what was effectively an open goal as his header went wide from a corner.
Thiago made his long-awaited Liverpool return in the 72nd minute. The accomplished midfielder has missed much of the season due to fitness issues, most recently a knee injury which kept him out for a number of weeks.
Irish international Ciaran Clark nearly made the breakthrough for Newcastle in the 78th minute but was denied by a great Alisson save. He powered a header towards goal from an accurate free kick but Alisson did just enough to keep it out.
Moments later and Liverpool very nearly made the breakthrough themselves. Sadio Mane just needed a touch in the 6-yard-box to guide the ball into the net but Fabian Schar reacted quickest to avert the danger. It was a brilliant clearance by the Swiss international.
Karl Darlow was called into action again in the 87th minute. He reacted brilliantly to a header as a result of a Liverpool corner. A scramble in the box then ensued but Liverpool were unable to make anything more of the situation.
The match finished 0-0 after an impressive Newcastle performance. Liverpool’s draw means they are now 3 points ahead of Manchester United in 2nd, but the Red Devils have a game in hand and could draw level on points with a win against Aston Villa on Friday.