x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Andy Carroll long forgotten as Newcastle hail Pappis Cisse

The former No 9 storms off the pitch after substitution, while the new incumbent of the shirt scores a brace as the home side beat Liverpool.

Papiss Cisse scores the opening goal in the match between Newcastle United v Liverpool.
Papiss Cisse scores the opening goal in the match between Newcastle United v Liverpool.

NEWCASTLE // In troubled times, Liverpool can usually rely on history to provide them with succour. Now even the past offers no respite from their problems.

As Kenny Dalglish, Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy and Jose Enrique endured a traumatic return to their former club, Liverpool's sixth defeat in seven league games was a catastrophic, costly affair.eur

Enrique ended the game in goal after Pepe Reina was sent off - ruling him out of the FA Cup semi-final with Everton - while, on a humiliating homecoming, Carroll swore at Dalglish and stormed up the tunnel after being substituted, his removal bringing a standing ovation laced with mockery from the fans who used to revere him.

"I don't have a problem with people showing their disappointment and frustration but they need to channel it better," said the Scot.

Meanwhile, a manager who once took Newcastle to a second-placed finish was told "you're getting sacked in the morning".

It won't prove a correct prediction but Liverpool's abominable league form makes Dalglish's position a legitimate subject for debate. Fractious, frustrated and failing, his team are Carling Cup winners yet still contriving to resemble a club in crisis.

Results are increasingly unacceptable, reunions rarely as painful. "Jose Enrique, we're in the top six," the Gallowgate End sang, referencing the Spaniard's complaints about Newcastle's supposed lack of ambition last summer. Yet Newcastle are 11 points clear of Liverpool, who are not even Merseyside's top team in the table. Their descent has been dramatic. Only Wolverhampton Wanderers, in free fall, have taken fewer points in 2012.

If the issue of Liverpool's spending is inescapable, defeat to the budget challengers highlighted it. While Carroll appeared at the Sports Direct Arena for the first time since his £35 million (Dh205.8m) move, his belated successor in Newcastle's iconic No 9 shirt, Papiss Cisse scored the double that delivered victory.

He has seven goals in as many games for Newcastle, Carroll six league strikes in 14 months on Merseyside. They are the sort of statistics that sum up both clubs' dealings in the transfer market.

While, predictably but accurately, Carroll was serenaded with chants of "what a waste of money", Cisse's potent finishing makes him the latest addition to Newcastle's lengthy list of bargains.

The £9m Senegalese struck for when he evaded Martin Skrtel to head in Hatem Ben Arfa's cross. Then, after Mike Williamson had headed the Frenchman's free kick against the post, his tally was doubled with admirable composure from Demba Ba's centre.

But luck and skill are a devastating combination and Newcastle had both: Cisse was clearly offside when his strike partner passed and, while a sliding Ben Arfa may have made a minimal contact with the ball, it rolled through to the scorer. "He's onside," Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, said. "It's a rule none of us managers like but that's how it is."

In a difficult game to officiate, two major decisions that went against Liverpool. "We could have had a penalty kick and that would have been them down to 10 men," said Dalglish after Danny Simpson, attempting to spare teammate Williamson an own goal, used his left arm to clear off the line. "It hits Danny high on the shoulder," Pardew said.

An earlier flashpoint was handled rather better. Carroll powered past Tim Krul only to collapse dramatically to the ground, rather than putting the ball in the net. "I don't think he went down deliberately," Dalglish said. But, as Martin Atkinson, the referee, correctly deduced, it was a dive and a particularly needless one at that.

It was one of several moments when Liverpool, who started superbly but faded worryingly, could have led. Bellamy's cross was deflected off his would-be marker, touched by a back-pedalling Krul and clipped off the bar.

So Newcastle had fortune, but they also showed fortitude, James Perch making a magnificent, goal-saving block to thwart Luis Suarez after Krul had erred.

The defender's afternoon was not over, Perch tripping Reina and then tumbling to the turf after the gentlest of butts from the goalkeeper. Nevertheless, Atkinson had no option but to dismiss him.

"It was deserved," Dalglish said. "Pepe feels a bit of remorse."

Depleted and defeated, losing their cool, their goalkeeper and the game, Liverpool's nightmare was complete.

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