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Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle

Michael Owen spent most of his homecoming watching the team he left produce a display of crushing efficiency as Liverpool beat Newcastle 2-0 at Anfield.
Souey: No defence for Bowyer
Magpie Owen barely got a kick against Jamie Carragher, and had plenty of time to see how effective his former club have become.
CliveBrunskill/GettyImages
Captain marvels: Gerrard celebrates a wondrous opener.
Newcastle’s task was not helped by Lee Bowyer’s second-half red card, but by then Steve Gerrard had crashed home his 12th of the season and Peter Crouch had seen a towering header touched onto the post by Shay Given, only for the ball to rebound in off the Newcastle keeper.
Liverpool dominated early on and Given produced a stunning one-handed block when Harry Kewell lashed a Crouch knockdown goalwards from six yards.
Liverpool’s drive brought them a 14th-minute goal from Gerrard. Luis Garcia lifted the ball in from the right, Crouch touch it into Gerrard’s path and the Anfield skipper surged between two defenders before blasting the ball high into the net.
Liverpool deserved more for their dominance, and hit Newcastle with a sucker punch on 43 minutes when Crouch climbed to meet a Harry Kewell cross and saw Given touch the ball onto the post, only for it to rebound in off the keeper.
On 50 minutes Fernando Morientes powered a header goalwards from a corner. It hit Nolberto Solano on the line, but referee Mark Halsey waved away appeals for handball.
Alan Shearer saw a shot charged down by Sami Hyypia, but at the other end Luis Garcia fractionally missed connecting with a Gerrard free-kick.
The game erupted on 66 minutes when Bowyer fouled Xabi Alonso, having looked to have been fouled himself seconds earlier.
Crouch pushed Bowyer to the ground and players from both sides rushed to the flashpoint. Referee Mark Halsey eventually sent off Bowyer and showed Crouch a yellow card.
• Souey: No defence for Bowyer
Graeme Souness refused to defend midfielder Lee Bowyer after the former England international was sent off in Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Bowyer was red carded in the second half for a bad foul on Xabi Alonso, and after referee Mark Halsey had calmed down a melee of players, he sent off Bowyer and only booked Liverpool’s Peter Crouch who had shoved the Newcastle man to the floor.
Newcastle boss Souness said: ‘I am not ducking the issue because I have not really seen everything that went on.
‘But I am being told by others who have seen it that there should have been more than one red card in that incident.
‘My only thought is that when you raise both your feet off the ground these days in a tackle, then you are facing trouble.
‘I think, especially away from home, when you lift your feet and launch yourself at someone you are risking everything. That’s the game today. Especially away from home.’
But although Souness declined to specifically name Crouch, he was clearly concerned that other players in the incident and melee that followed, escaped serious censure.
He said: ‘I don’t think that Bowyer was the only one who should have had a red card.
‘I am not referring to anyone, I did not see it clearly. But some of the guys sitting near me on the touchline who did see it felt that there should maybe have been another seeing the red card.
‘But that has not affected the outcome. I’ve not seen it, I know people will say it was only a few yards away but when you’re looking at other things in the game it’s not always easy.’
Owen, on his first game back at Anfield since his departure to Real Madrid 18 months ago, and his summer decision not to return to Merseyside, suffered some booing from the Kop and did not get the expected ovation from his former fans.
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard said: ‘I am disappointed with that, he should be a legend here for all the goals he has scored for Liverpool in the past.
‘He got a mixed reception, which is disappointing. I do not think they were booing him much but he deserves a standing ovation for the goals he has scored.’
Souness added: ‘I wasn’t too aware of any crowd reaction to Michael, but if you went out on the street you will know that Liverpool supporters love Michael Owen.’
On the game Souness added: ‘In the first half Liverpool were magnificent and we were poor. They had outstanding performances in the centre of midfield and they dominated.
‘Our game plan didn’t work and we were hoping, just maybe, that they would have a reaction to all the travelling they’d done to Japan and back. But it didn’t happen.
‘We were over-run in the first half and 2-0 at half time certainly didn’t flatter them.’
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez’s view on the sending off was: ‘I was happy to see Xabi Alonso walking properly after that tackle, I didn’t really see it because I was planning to change a player at the time.
‘I didn’t think what Crouch did was really important. For me what is important is to stop dangerous tackles.
‘I didn’t take him off to protect him, it was just to give him a rest. He is not the sort of player to get involved in things.
‘I have also seen the TV pictures of his goal, I think it is his and not an own goal, he had the ball, tried to score and it went in.’
Shay Given tipped Crouch’s header onto the post and the ball rebounded only to hit the back of the Newcastle keeper’s head and trickle over the line.

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