Peter Crouch was the star of the show as Liverpool won at 10-man Newcastle.
Crouch scored one, made another and won Liverpool's penalty
Crouch played a part in Liverpool's two first-half goals, scoring with a downward header and then setting up Steven Gerrard, who drilled home.
Newcastle pulled a goal back before the break through Shola Ameobi's header, but Jean-Alain Boumsong's 51st-minute red-card ended their fightback.
Boumsong was sent off after giving away a penalty for a foul on Crouch, with Djibril Cisse converting the spot-kick.
Boumsong has had an inconsistent season and looked distraught as trudged round the pitch to the tunnel after his dismissal.
Referee Mike Riley brandished the red card when Boumsong wrestled Crouch to the ground after the Frenchman miskicked horribly.
Crouch had been deployed as a lone striker, with Harry Kewell and Cisse playing either side of the England international.
The system gave Liverpool plenty of attacking fluency and it did not take long for them to get into their goalscoring stride.
Gerrard fed the ball into the path of Jan Kromkamp, the Dutchman cleverly chipping the ball towards Crouch.
The Liverpool forward muscled his way between Peter Ramage and Boumsong before heading downwards past Shay Given.
Newcastle had struggled to get into the game before Crouch's goal, and it took them a further 10 minutes to seriously threaten the Liverpool goal.
Shearer and Charles N'Zogbia tried their luck with speculative shots, the latter's effort momentarily spilled by Jose Reina.
That was to prove N'Zogbia's last contribution in the game as he soon limped off with an injury to be replaced by Lee Bowyer.
Just past the half-hour mark, Liverpool went two goals ahead following a devastating counter-attack.
Cisse sent over a cross to Gerrard, who, after playing a neat one-two with Crouch, fired the ball into the corner with a diagonal shot.
Ameobi revived Newcastle hopes when he escaped the shackles of Sami Hyypia to flight a header past Reina from Scott Parker's cross two minutes before the interval.
But having edged their way back into the game, Newcastle's hopes of salvaging of a point were all but extinguished by Boumsong's dismissal and Cisse's penalty early in the second half.
Cisse was yellow-carded for his over-exuberant goal celebration and the Frenchman was spoken to again when he goaded the Newcastle fans for a second time.
Having failed to endear himself to the St James' Park crowd, Cisse then proceeded to upset Kewell by selfishly shooting rather passing to the Australian.
Late on, Given made two spectacular saves, diving to tip away goalbound shots from Xabi Alonso and Kromkamp.
The win means Liverpool are two points behind Manchester United, though they have played two games more.
Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder:
"What you won't get me to do is criticise Jean-Alain Boumsong publicly.
"I was a player once and any manager or coach who criticised me after a bad mistake wasn't a good manager.
"I will sit down with Boumsong and go through the goals and share my view of where he could have done better."
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
"It's crazy. You can't play in a cup competition like the FA Cup after two days with the same players.
"The thing I don't understand is you must play with your strongest team, but my strongest team will all be tired.
"We've got two important games in two days and we need to manage the squad, but we played well and scored goals."
Newcastle: Given, Ramage, Boumsong, Elliott, Babayaro, Solano, Parker, Emre (Clark 90), N'Zogbia (Bowyer 28), Shearer, Ameobi (Dyer 62).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Moore.
Sent Off: Boumsong (51).
Booked: Ramage, Bowyer.
Goals: Ameobi 41.
Liverpool: Reina, Agger, Hyypia (Fowler 90), Carragher, Warnock, Kromkamp, Hamann, Gerrard (Alonso 74), Kewell, Cisse, Crouch (Luis Garcia 63).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Traore.
Booked: Cisse, Agger, Carragher.
Goals: Crouch 10, Gerrard 35, Cisse 52 pen.
Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).