Liverpool reopened their three-point lead at the Premier League summit but they were held to a 0-0 draw by a valiant Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Mohamed Salah missed two opportunities to turn the champions’ advantage at the turn of the year into a more handsome one, but the hosts were inspired by goalkeeper Karl Darlow and his spirited Newcastle defenders.
Fabian Schar produced a goal-line clearance to deny Sadio Mane in the second period to ensure that Liverpool enter 2021 having failed to beat four of the bottom seven in their opening 16 games.
The year ends with Jurgen Klopp’s side three points clear at the top of the Premier League from Manchester United, who have a game in hand, with Leicester third and Everton in fourth, but also with a game in hand.
Alisson kept out Ciaran Clark’s header in the closing stages but the result is enough to move Newcastle up to 14th following the first goalless stalemate between the sides in 74 meetings, dating back to February 1974.
Newcastle: Darlow (9), Clark (8), Fernandez (8), Schar (8), Yedlin (7), Matthew Longstaff (7), Hayden (7), Ritchie (7), Joelinton (7), Wilson (8), Murphy (6).
Subs: Lewis (n/a), Almiron (6).
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Phillips (6), Fabinho (6), Robertson (7), Jones (6), Henderson (6), Milner (6), Salah (5), Firmino (6), Mane (6).
Subs: Wijnaldum (6), Thiago (6), Shaqiri (n/a).
Man of the match: Karl Darlow.
Bruce’s courageous approach rewarded
Steve Bruce described the “mass hysteria” and criticism received after Newcastle’s defeat by Brentford last week as unjust, but following their now-annual loss to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day, the Magpies were looking to extend their four-match unbeaten Premier League run in home fixtures against the reigning champions.
Nathaniel Phillips was handed only his third league appearance for Liverpool with Klopp’s defensive resources having been further depleted by the loss of Joel Matip, and Newcastle started brightly with Callum Wilson forcing two saves from keeper Alisson inside the opening 12 minutes.