REDS LICK WASTED MAGPIES
LONDON - Liverpool stayed top of the Premier League on Sunday after an emphatic 5-1 win at Newcastle United gave them maximum points from their two Christmas fixtures.
Liverpool, 45 points from 20 matches, are four points ahead of Chelsea who were still to play.
It was their biggest win of the season and followed up their 3-0 demolition of Bolton Wanderers on Friday. It also moved them 10 points ahead of third-placed Manchester United, at least until the champions play Middlesbrough on Monday.
United have three matches in hand over Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard scored twice with Sami Hyypia, Ryan Babel and Xabi Alonso (penalty) adding the others as Liverpool maintained their drive for their first title success since 1990.
After being denied an early breakthrough by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given who made three outstanding saves, Liverpool took control when Gerrard scored with a shot that went in off the post after 31 minutes and a header from Hyypia following a corner five minutes later.
The hosts' defeat came in the backround of a pre-match assurance by owner Mike Ashley that the club was no longer for sale.
Newcastle pulled one back in stoppage time at the end of the first half when David Edgar headed in from a corner, but Babel restored Liverpool's two-goal advantage when he prodded home as United defenders waited for a whistle that never came.
Gerrard added the fourth after 66 minutes when he dinked the ball over Given following a sublime through ball from Lucas Leiva and Alonso made it 5-1 in the 76th minute after Edgar fouled David Ngog.
Newcastle made very little impression, just hours after billionaire Mike Ashley announced he was taking the club off the market. - Reuter