Liverpool beat 10-man Newcastle 2-0

Sports Desk, Feb 18 (EFE).- Building on their derby win over Everton, Liverpool topped Newcastle United 2-0 Saturday in a game in which the Magpies went down to 10 men in the 22nd minute.

The visiting Reds improved to 35 points, just 6 points behind 4th-place Newcastle with a game in hand, and climbed to eighth in the Premier League table ahead of their looming Champions League clash with European nemesis Real Madrid.

Newcastle, meanwhile, will seek to turn the page as they prepare for next weekend’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester United.

The hosts started well and Miguel Almiron forced a terrific save from Alisson in the 4th minute, but the Reds took the lead in the 10th on a goal by Darwin Nuñez, assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Newcastle went behind 2-0 in the 17th minute, as Mohamed Salah found Cody Gakpo with a ball over the top of the defense and the Dutch striker put it past goalkeeper Nick Pope.

The situation grew worse for the Magpies five minutes later, when a desperate Pope handled the ball outside the area to keep it away from the onrushing Salah, earning a red card that reduced his side to 10 men and will keep him out of the Feb. 26 final at Wembley.

Eddie Howe’s men kept their composure.

Substitute keeper Martin Dubravka dealt with a dangerous free kick from Alexander-Arnold and Allan Saint-Maximin forced a save from Alisson, who got help from cross-bar on a strike by Dan Burn in the 41st minute.

Both sides created opportunities in the second, but Dubravka and Alisson coped with whatever came their way and Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp felt confident enough to make a quadruple change at the hour mark, though defender Virgil van Dijk played all 90 minutes in his first match back from an injury that sidelined him for seven weeks.

While things appear to be looking up for Liverpool, Chelsea’s woes deepened Saturday with a 1-0 home defeat to last-place Southampton that leaves the Blues languishing in 10th.

The Saints, in their first game under interim coach Ruben Selles, prevailed thanks to a superb free kick by James Ward-Prowse in first-half stoppage time.

Besides the loss, Chelsea supporters endured the sight of captain Cesar Azpilicueta’s being stretchered off the field in the 84th minute after catching an inadvertent boot to the head from Southampton’s Sekou Mara.

The Spanish defender was taken to a hospital, where he will remain overnight for observation, but EFE learned that tests detected no serious damage and that Azpilicueta was awake and talking to his wife.

Saturday’s action began in Birmingham, where Arsenal scored two late goals to beat Aston Villa 4-2 in a thriller that returned the Gunners to the top of the table.

Jorginho’s excellent shot from outside the box struck the underside of the bar and cannoned in off goalkeeper Emi Martinez in stoppage time, before Gabriel Martinelli raced clear from a Villa corner that Martinez had gone up for to tap into an empty net.

Aston Villa took an early lead through Ollie Watkins’ left-footed finish, but Arsenal soon equalized thanks to Bukayo Saka’s strike.

The home side regained the lead after 30 minutes when Philippe Coutinho finished off a flowing counter attack, as a second consecutive defeat looked on the cards for Arsenal after their midweek loss to title rivals Manchester City.

But Arsenal showed plenty of grit during the second half as they piled forward in search of an equalizer, although they also had goalkeeper Aaron Ramsey and the post to thank after Villa squandered several presentable chances of their own.

The leveler came on the hour mark through Oleksandr Zinchenko’s brilliant near-post shot.

The win keeps the London side firmly in the hunt for their first Premier League trophy since 2004, while Villa, who more than played their part in a fantastic match, have now lost three in a row.

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