LONDON: Mohamed Salah was carried from the pitch on a stretcher as substitute Divock Origi kept Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes alive with a last-gasp winner at Newcastle.
The Egypt international was hurt in a collision with Magpies keeper Martin Dubravka 68 minutes into a pulsating encounter at St James’ Park to leave his participation in Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final second-leg clash with Barcelona in doubt.
His misfortune came during a breathless 3-2 victory at St James’ Park which leaves the Reds two points clear of Manchester City, who play Leicester on Monday evening, and ensured that the race for the title will go to the final day of the season.
The Magpies levelled twice as Christian Atsu and Salomon Rondon cancelled out goals from Virgil Van Dijk and Salah, but it was Origi, whose late intervention clinched the derby victory over Everton earlier this season, who came to the rescue with just four minutes remaining.
Dubravka’s goal did not come under threat until the 11th minute when Salah climbed highest to meet Andy Robertson’s cross and after seeing his header blocked, he snatched at the rebound and sent the ball into the side-netting.
However, the keeper was beaten in comprehensive style two minutes later when Jamaal Lascelles slipped to leave Van Dijk unmarked, and he headed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s assist firmly home.
The Magpies hit back within seven minutes after former Liverpool full-back Javier Manquillo had crossed from the right and Matt Ritchie saw his initial shot blocked.
Rondon smashed the loose ball towards goal, where Alexander-Arnold appeared to block it with his hand, but was spared a red card when Atsu followed up to level.
Keeper Alisson needed the help of his crossbar to keep out Ayoze Perez’s dipping volley as Newcastle sensed an opportunity, but they were made to pay for a second lapse at the back inside the opening 28 minutes when Salah found himself in acres of space to steer Alexander-Arnold’s speculative cross past the helpless Dubravka.
The Slovak prevented Sadio Mane from increasing his side’s advantage after he had played a neat one-two with Salah as the frenetic pace was maintained throughout a pulsating first half.
Rondon forced Alisson into a regulation save from distance as the half-time whistle approached, but it was the visitors who led as the teams headed for the dressing rooms.
Salah skewed a snapshot wide and Daniel Sturridge blazed wastefully over either side of Alisson’s stop from Rondon inside the opening five minutes of the second half, but the Venezuela international was not to be denied.
Former Magpie Georginio Wijnaldum cleared Ki Sung-yueng’s corner to the edge of the box, but when the ball was fed back in, Rondon pounced to smash home his 11th goal of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men set about the task of restoring their lead in determined fashion, but with Newcastle prospering on the break, the game was in the melting pot.
Salah departed prematurely after colliding with Dubravka as the pair converged on Dejan Lovren’s long ball, but his side’s fortunes improved with four minutes remaining when his replacement Origi glanced fellow substitute Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross past Dubravka to win it.