Papiss Demba Cisse scored two goals for the second straight weekend to guide Newcastle to a 2-0 win over 10-man Liverpool on Sunday, maintaining his team’s unlikely challenge for European football next season.
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The Senegal striker kept up his stunning form since joining Newcastle from German side Freiburg in January, taking his tally to seven goals from seven games with well-taken strikes in the 19th and 59th minutes at St. James’ Park.
The win kept Newcastle level on points with fifth-place Chelsea and reduced the gap to third-place Arsenal to five points with seven matches remaining, a situation which appeared highly improbable at the start of the season after losing Jose Enrique, Joey Barton and captain Kevin Nolan in the summer.
To add to Liverpool’s misery, the visitors had goalkeeper Jose Reina dismissed late on for appearing to headbutt Newcastle defender James Perch. The Spain international will now miss the next three games – including the FA Cup semifinal against Merseyside rival Everton at Wembley Stadium on April 14.
The fallen giants of English football have lost six of their last seven matches to slip to eighth place in the standings, behind Merseyside rival Everton, to pile more pressure on manager Kenny Dalglish.
The home fans derided Dalglish at the end of the match, singing ”You’re getting sacked in the morning,” and the Scottish manager wasn’t the only person to be roundly jeered by Newcastle’s notoriously vocal fans.
Andy Carroll, who moved to Liverpool from Newcastle for a club-record fee of 35 million pounds (then $56 million) in January last year, was booed throughout by the home supporters with those jeers intensifying when he was booked for diving after rounding goalkeeper Tim Krul in the 19th minute with the goal at his mercy.
While the England striker’s poor goalscoring run continued, the same cannot be said of the man who replaced him as No. 9 at the northeast club.
Cisse couldn’t have made a better start to life on Tyneside and he endeared himself even more to the supporters by heading home a cross from Hatem Ben Arfa at the far post to put Newcastle ahead.
Mike Williamson struck a shot against the post in the 47th for the hosts before Cisse grabbed his second, collecting a pass from international teammate Demba Ba before rounding Reina and stroking home from six yards (meters).
Cisse should have been flagged offside for that goal, increasing Liverpool’s frustrations which boiled over in the 81st when Reina was given a straight red card.
The goalkeeper reacted badly after being clipped by Perch’s outstretched leg after making a routine save, turning round and aiming a headbutt at the center back, who fell to the ground theatrically.
With all Liverpool’s substitutions having been made, left back Enrique ended up in goal for the final 10 minutes.