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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 22:24 GMT
Liverpool silence Toon Army
Danny Murphy celebrates his second goal for Liverpool
Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle United
E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

Liverpool lit up the title race against Newcastle United after Anfield was plunged into darkness by floodlight failure.

The kick-off was delayed while an electrical fault was cured - but the wait was well worthwhile as Liverpool produced a vibrant performance to dismiss Bobby Robson's side.

Danny Murphy struck either side of half-time and Dietmar Hamann added a third against his former club late on to effectively put the lights out on Newcastle United's Premiership challenge.

Anfield in darkness after a floodlight failure
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier gave his team a pep-talk in the build up to the game, and it appeared to provide the perfect tonic as they produced a magnificent display of flowing and high-octane attacking football.

Newcastle, in contrast, were low-key and now face a massive task to revive their title challenge after successive defeats against Arsenal and Liverpool.

Robson has not tasted victory as a player or manager in 50 years of visiting Anfield - and he never looked like breaking his duck on this occasion.

32 mins: Murphy puts Liverpool ahead from an Anelka cross.
53 mins: Murphy strides through the Newcastle defence to score again.
74 mins: Hamann scores a rare goal to confirm Liverpool's win.
Liverpool - occasionally branded the least attractive of the title contenders - made their intentions clear by including Anelka, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey as they kept up the pressure on Manchester United and Arsenal.

It was an ultra-attacking policy that paid rich dividends in a first-half played at blistering pace and completely dominated by Liverpool.

Liverpool controlled from the start, and the pace of Anelka illuminated an Anfield that was in gloom earlier.

I'm really surprised by our performace because some of them were nervous as kittens
Newcastle manager Bobby Robson
The French striker, on loan from Paris St Germain, forced a brilliant save out of Shay Given after 17 minutes when he touched his shot on to the woodwork.

And he was denied by another fine save from the Republic of Ireland international after a close range header.

But Newcastle were living on borrowed time, and it was no surprise when Liverpool broke the deadlock after 31 minutes.

And it was no surprise that Anelka was heavily involved, breaking on a stretched Newcastle defence before finding Murphy, who beat Given comfortably.

Newcastle had not posed an attacking threat, but substitute Clarence Acuna should have equalised seven minutes before the interval.

Henchoz brushes Cort aside
Acuna, on for hamstring injury victim Gary Speed, somehow hooked over from virtually under the bar after Laurent Robert's free-kick caused mass confusion in the Liverpool penalty area.

Newcastle needed to find another gear after half-time, but it was Liverpool who doubled their advantage after 52 minutes.

Murphy was again the goalscorer, the beneficiary of a yawning gap in the centre of Newcastle's defence after he picked up a loose ball.

He strode through unchallenged to beat Given, who was left ridiculously exposed by his defence.

The players realise there is a great opportunity for them they showed how much they wanted it
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
Newcastle thought they had a lifeline when Carl Cort beat Jerzy Dudek, but referee Jeff Winter spotted the giant striker handling the ball.

Liverpool were in irresistible form, and Hamann got in on the act against his former club to remove any doubts about the destiny of the points after 74 minutes.

Vladimir Smicer set up Hamann, and he beat Given low to his left with a precise finish.

It was no more than Liverpool deserved to keep their title challenge right on course.

Liverpool: Dudek, Xavier, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Smicer, Murphy, Hamann, Heskey, Owen, Anelka. Subs: Kirkland, Barmby, McAllister, Wright, Litmanen.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Dabizas, Distin, Solano, Jenas, Speed, Robert, Shearer, Cort. Subs: Harper, Elliott, Acuna, Ameobi, Bernard.

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Liverpool flew out of the blocks"
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
"There was a great will about the team"
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"We seemed overawed"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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