Liverpool bite back after Luis Suarez affair with six-goal destruction of Newcastle United
Reds sink their teeth into Magpies
Newcastle United 0-6 Liverpool: Daniel Sturridge filled Luis Suarez's boots to perfection as Liverpool hit top gear to pile the pressure on Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.
The striker, who scored for Chelsea at St James' Park last season, helped himself to a double as the Reds romped to a stunning victory which leaves the Magpies still deep in relegation trouble.
Newcastle were utterly shambolic on a day when they could have all but secured their Barclays Premier League status for another season, and the visitors took full advantage.
Central defender Daniel Agger headed them in front with just five minutes gone and Sunderland old boy Jordan Henderson made it 2-0 12 minutes later.
Pardew threw on substitutes Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran at the break, but it was Sturridge who ended any doubt that that Brendan Rodgers' men would leave north-east with all the points with a double inside six second-half minutes,
Further strikes from substitute Fabio Borini and Henderson rubbed salt into black and white wounds, as did the 75th-minute dismissal of Mathieu Debuchy for a second yellow card.
The Newcastle boss had gone into the game having expressed his disappointment with the tide of criticism which had come his way in the wake of the derby defeat by Sunderland a fortnight ago, but today's dreadful display will have done little to appease either the club's fans or owner Mike Ashley with relegation a distinct possibility.
Pardew stood impotently on the sideline as his side imploded, and one fan among a crowd of 52,351 made his feelings clear when he hurled his scarf towards the 51-year-old.
A collective sigh of relief issued forth from St James' some 40 minutes ahead of kick-off when news of Tottenham's late equaliser, which denied Wigan a much-needed victory, left them still five points clear of the drop zone.
As a result, Pardew's players emerged from the dressing room knowing a victory would edge them to the brink of safety, far from their objectives for the campaign, but the bare minimum requirement.
But within 17 catastrophic minutes, their hopes had all but died as Liverpool cut loose to rekindle memories of their 5-1 victory on Tyneside in 2008.
Few inside St James' needed reminding that on that occasion, they would slip out of the division five months later.
The Reds tore at their hosts from the off and needed just five minutes to forge their way ahead when Agger took advantage of lazy defending to run unmarked on to Stewart Downing's lofted cross and head past the helpless Rob Elliot.
Newcastle were woeful as they conceded space to Liverpool in the middle of the field despite employing James Perch and Cheick Tiote in front of the back four to allow the excellent Philippe Coutinho and Sturridge to run riot.
They increased their lead with 17 minutes gone after mounting a flowing attack which left the magpies floundering again, Coutinho sliding the ball into Sturridge's path for him to square for Henderson to double the dose.
Sturridge forced a 24th-minute save from Elliot and Steven Gerrard uncharacteristically volleyed wide five minutes later with the locals fearing the worst.
By contrast, Newcastle had little or no penetration as lone striker Papiss Cisse was starved of possession with Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko becalmed by a sea of red shirts.
But they should really have been back in it with nine minutes of the half remaining when full-back Massadio Haidara produced the first cross of any note to present Perch with a free header, only to see him head wastefully wide.
Pardew made his move at the break, withdrawing Perch and Jonas Gutierrez with Ben Arfa and Gouffran, knowing his side needed something different and needed it fast.
Gouffran might have obliged within four minutes when he got his head to Cabaye's cross, but his looping header was easily collected by Pepe Reina.
The balance of the game had changed as Newcastle poured forward and started to find space in advanced areas, although Cabaye passed up a glorious chance after miscontrolling on the edge of the box with 52 minutes gone.
But the game was effectively over two minutes later when Ben Arfa, who had shown encouraging signs, was robbed by Coutinho wide on the right and sped forward to slide in Sturridge, who blasted past Elliot.
But things were to get much, much worse for the Magpies.
They were carved open once again when Gerrard and Henderson combined to set up Sturridge for his second with half an hour still to play, and the rout was far from complete.
Borini needed just two minutes to find the back of the net on his return from injury as a substitute when he converted Downing's cross, and Henderson sent a 74th-minute free-kick across Elliot and into the bottom corner with no team-mate able to get a touch to make it 6-0.
Within seconds Debuchy got his marching orders after receiving a second yellow for a foul on Coutinho, and only a fine 82nd-minute save by Elliot denied Coutinho a seventh goal as the storm clouds gathered over Tyneside with three games of a difficult campaign remaining.
Suarez row behind us: Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was keen to move on from a "difficult" past week which saw striker Luis Suarez banned for 10 matches for biting.
Suarez was suspended after he was caught on camera biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in last Sunday's game between the two sides.
The Reds responded by demolishing Newcastle 6-0 at St James' Park, with his replacement, Daniel Sturridge, bagging a brace.
Daniel Agger gave the visitors the ideal start with a third-minute goal before Jordan Henderson doubled thier advantage after 17 minutes.
The former Chelsea striker Sturridge then struck twice before substitute Fabio Borini found the net just minutes after coming on.
Henderson picked up his second 15 minutes from the end direct from a free kick as Liverpool moved to within five points of rivals Everton
"Of course last week was difficult," Rodgers told ESPN. "I spent a lot of time talking to Luis.
"We move on from that, we don't want to keep bringing it up.
"He is suspended for 10 games. My plan is to keep him fit and working and there is a plan. It was a real test for us today.
"We do it (move forward) collectively. Luis has been brilliant, we can only move forward with the players we have.
"As you have seen today our focus and job at hand was fantastic."
Liverpool dominated from start to finish and Agger's third-minute goal set the tone for the rest of the game.
"It was a terrific start, we were very aggressive, the pressing was very good," he said.
"Daniel Sturridge can prove to be one of the top strikers in Europe in the next three years, he needs an opportunity.
"You can see his strength, his speed his power and his finishing as well."
For Newcastle boss Pardew it was a game to forget and came just a fortnight after they were humbled 3-0 by rivals Sunderland at the same venue.
"It was an awful performance by us," Pardew said.
"We have to do something about that for next week.
"We have to stick together now we have to get ourselves disciplined we got run ragged today.
"I thought that (lack of experience) was evident today.
"Luckily we have three games to go to put it right. We need four points to make sure we are safe. They were very good today.
"They had a great energy, but there is no excuse for our performance. Defensively we were very, very poor - we will have to make a couple of changes there.
"The only message is we will come out fighting.
"We have had two tough games at home we have got work to do, fortunately our skipper is available, we need to show that Monday morning when we show up."
Pardew voices relegation fears
Alan Pardew admitted he was a worried man after seeing Newcastle plummet deep into relegation trouble with a 6-0 drubbing by Liverpool at St James' Park.
On a day when the 51-year-old sent out his team under orders to make amends for their derby humiliation by Sunderland a fortnight ago, the Magpies slipped to their heaviest home defeat since 1925 as the Reds ran riot even without the suspended Luis Suarez.
Pardew said: "Well I'm worried, of course. You can't come off a defeat like that and the manner it was without being worried.
"I'm not going to criticise my players, I'm not going to criticise the team in any shape or form on an individual basis.
"It was a collective effort and we fell down collectively."
Asked if he is confident he can drag the club out of a terrifying tail-spin, Pardew said: "Yes, of course, and I think we have got enough in the dressing room to do that.
"We haven't become a bad staff or a bad set of players overnight. But we definitely need to roll our sleeves up and make sure we make a really good fist of these last three games."
Pardew and his players were booed from the pitch both at half-time and on the final whistle after capitulating in alarming style, much as they had done against Liverpool in December 2008. Five months later, they were relegated.
Asked about the fans' jeers, Pardew said: "They have got every right to. That performance is just not good enough for Newcastle.
"We are all aware of that, not just myself and my staff but my team, and on Monday morning at 10.30am I expect to see all my team out there whether their foot is hanging off or whatever ready to train.
"Now we have got to show we have got the heart for this little scrap we are in because other teams certainly have."
Owner Mike Ashley was not at the game but it is understood Pardew is under no immediate threat despite the criticism currently coming his way.
Newcastle were undone within 17 minutes after Daniel Agger and then Jordan Henderson struck, and any hopes of a fightback were dashed after the break when Daniel Sturridge, making the most of Suarez's enforced absence, struck twice within six minutes.
But there was worse to come with substitute Fabio Borini and Henderson completing the rout as the Magpies surrendered to leave themselves deep in relegation trouble.
In addition, they will be without France full-back Mathieu Debuchy for next weekend's trip to West Ham after he was sent off for a second bookable offence 15 minutes from time.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the way his players responded to the loss of Suarez.
He said: "It has been a traumatic week for the football club but we accepted that.
"Luis did wrong, he takes his punishment and we move on. And we had to move on with a performance today and I don't think we could have done any more."
Liverpool's performance demonstrated they are far from a one-man team and Rodgers praised the collective effort.
He said: "He's been an outstanding player for us, Luis, this season and I am sure will continue to be for the future.
"Other players have scored goals, he has just been a talent. It's probably because he has played so much, he hasn't missed many games, so I can see why maybe people would label us as that.
"But we are up to 67 goals now. Luis has scored a number of goals for us and been fantastic, but you see today it's very much about the collective, how we press together, how we pass together, how we go and penetrate together.
"We got six goals and maybe could have had a few more. A priority for us was a clean sheet so we are certainly no one-man team.
"We are very much a collective group and our concentration and focus today was very, very good."
Belfast Telegraph Digital