LONDON: Mo Salah headed off to the African Cup of Nations by scoring twice and missing a penalty as Liverpool seized a three-points lead in the Premier League with a 4-2 victory over Newcastle at Anfield.

Manager Jurgen Klopp’s team, who began the day level with Aston Villa on points, now have 45 from 20 games. Villa have 42 points while Manchester City, who have played one fewer game, are third on 40. Newcastle are ninth on 29.

Klopp said: “It was a sensational game from my team. We started extremely lively. Super game. I loved so many aspects of the game bar the goals we conceded. Unbelievable atmosphere. Counter-pressing wise it was for football schools. They have to watch that, take it and keep it. It was everything good.”

The 31-year-old Salah, who has 151 Premier League goals for Liverpool, changed his boots at halftime and the switch paid off handsomely. His two goals moved him even with City’s Erling Haaland as joint top scorers with 14 goals. He is the joint top on assists, level with Villa’s Ollie Watkins on eight.

Liverpool dominated the game, and Salah, who had fired a first-half penalty straight at goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, finally broke the deadlock in the 49th minute when Darwin Nunez cut the ball across to the Egyptian for a close-range finish.

Alexander Isak scored against the run of play with Newcastle’s second shot of the game in the 54th minute when he ran onto a through ball from Anthony Gordon and knocked it past keeper Alisson into the far corner.

Curtis Jones put the home side back in front in the 74th minute with a tap-in after a pass across goal from Diogo Jota, and Cody Gakpo scored four minutes later.

Sven Botman pulled one back for Newcastle in the 81st before Salah struck from the penalty spot after Jota had been tripped by Dubravka in the 86th.

Newcastle have now lost four of their last five league matches and face champions Manchester City on January13 after their FA Cup third round derby meeting with Sunderland on Saturday.


Howe argued Salah’s second penalty, awarded when Dubravka dove in to stop Jota and the Liverpool player appeared to take two steps before stumbling, should not have stood.

“It shouldn’t be given. Martin has pulled his hand away. He’s had two steps before going down. For me it’s not a penalty,” Howe said. “We feel hard done by.”