Daniel Sturridge preserved Liverpool’s promising start to the Barclays Premier League season by denying 10-man Newcastle a famous victory.
The Reds trailed at St James’ Park before the England international headed home Luis Suarez’s cross to make the final score 2-2.
Yohan Cabaye had given the Magpies a 23rd-minute lead with a spectacular long-range strike, but the visitors were handed a lifeline when central defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was sent off for hauling back Luis Suarez five minutes before
Steven Gerrard levelled from the penalty spot – his 100th league goal for the Reds – but Paul Dummett, who had been drafted into central defence in the wake of Yanga-Mbiwa’s departure, marked his third senior appearance with his first
goal 12 minutes after the restart.
However, Sturridge’s effort got the visitors back into the game and the home side had to survive a late onslaught as Liverpool went for the kill in front of an appreciative crowd of 51,703.
Newcastle went into the game with skipper and influential defender Fabricio Coloccini joining Steven Taylor on the sidelines with a groin injury, and that left Mike Williamson and Yanga-Mbiwa with a major challenge on their hands.
The task of attempting to shackle Suarez and strike partner Sturridge is one which most teams have struggled to achieve this season, but it was one the Magpies tackled manfully for 40 minutes.
Alan Pardew adopted a 4-5-1 formation with Hatem Ben Arfa asked to lead the line and Loic Remy lining up wide on the left in an attempt to defuse the Reds’ fluid system, and with Cheick Tiote, wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Coloccini, in belligerent form, they managed to do just that.
There were few scares for goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was relieved to see Sturridge scuff a 12th-minute shot straight at him, although full-back Davide Santon had to clear a Suarez header off the line from Gerrard’s corner eight minutes later.
But it was Newcastle who took the lead in spectacular style with 23 minutes gone.
Cabaye picked up the ball on halfway and made ground, and with no Liverpool player having closed him down, he unleashed a dipping effort from all of 30 yards which flew across goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and inside the far post.
The visitors might have been back in the game within two minutes, but defender Mamadou Sakho headed wide from Suarez’s cross, and the Magpies came close to doubling their lead eight minutes before the break when Moussa Sissoko took aim from distance and forced a vital save from Mignolet.
But the game changed five minutes before the break when Suarez for the first time managed to get in behind Yanga-Mbiwa, who laid a hand on his shoulder as he attempted to recover lost ground.
The striker went down and referee Andre Marriner pointed immediately to the spot and then produced the inevitable red card despite the home side’s vain – and ultimately incorrect – appeals for offside.
Gerrard calmly converted the resulting penalty after order had been restored and with no central defender on the bench, Pardew sent on specialist left-back Dummett as Sissoko was sacrificed.
The Reds returned determined to make their numerical advantage count, and they might have done just that within three minutes of the restart.
Jordan Henderson picked out Glen Johnson with a beautiful cross-field pass and the full-back cut inside before testing Krul at the foot of his near post.
But Pardew’s men continued to create chances and Cabaye played Remy in three minutes later only for Martin Skrtel to intervene before he could shoot.
However, there was nothing the visitors could do to prevent Newcastle from regaining the lead when Cabaye’s 57th-minute free-kick was allowed to travel across the penalty area for Dummett to sidefoot home at the far post and set off on a delirious celebratory run along the Gallowgate End.
Henderson lifted a long-range effort high over Krul’s crossbar with Liverpool attempting to respond, although Tiote wasted a good opportunity at the other end after breaking clear when he shot tamely wide with Ben Arfa and Remy in better positions.
Krul had to make a smart 71st-minute save from Suarez’s snapshot, but he was finally beaten seconds later when the Uruguayan found space down the left and unselfishly crossed for Sturridge to head home.
The England international might have doubled his tally within two minutes, but he could not quite get a touch to substitute Luis Alberto’s driven cross.
Liverpool were rampant and Suarez grazed the bar with a thumping shot from Aly Cissokho’s 75th-minute pull-back, but their hosts held firm with Krul making a fine save to keep out Suarez’s 96th-minute free-kick to claim a creditable point.