Liverpool bounced back from consecutive Premier League defeats with a routine 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield on Monday night.
Raheem Sterling hit the opening goal after just eight minutes, before Joe Allen fired his first goal of the season to secure all three points in the second half.
Newcastle had Moussa Sissoko sent off for two yellow cards, whilst Sterling could easily have had a hat-trick on another day – however his finishing in the second half was especially poor.
Sterling was expected to lead the line in the absence of Daniel Sturridge, who was once again ruled out through injury.
Brendan Rodgers sprung a surprise however, with Sterling on the left hand side, the returning Jordon Ibe on the right, and Philippe Coutinho playing in the false nine position.
Rodgers also fielded a back four for the first time in the Premier League since early December, but Newcastle rarely threatened on a night that saw the Reds dominate from early on.
They were helped by an early goal from Raheem Sterling, with the 20-year-old firing a personal best 11th strike of the season. The England man collected a pinpoint diagonal ball from Jordan Henderson, stepped inside two defenders and curled a perfect finish across Tim Krul into the bottom corner.
That set the tempo for the Reds, who could have quite easily gone in three or four up at half time.
Philippe Coutinho was particularly impressive, and the Brazilian was unfortunate not to find Sterling in the box after jinking past two defenders and firing a pass across goal.
He linked up with Jordan Henderson well all evening, and almost produced a second from a well worked free kick – yet Newcastle forward Ayoze Perez thwarted him with a last ditch tackle.
The Spaniard was involved in Newcastle’s only threatening moments, first taking a tumble in the box from a challenge from Dejan Lovren that referee Lee Mason inexplicably waved away, then forcing Mignolet into a fine save from a looping header in the final minute of the first half.
That seemed to rattle Liverpool heading into the second half, and Lovren in particular. The Croat looked shaky minutes after the restart, yet Mignolet was not called into action by a toothless Newcastle attack.
Liverpool eventually rediscovered their rhythm, and should have made it 2-0 with half an hour still to play. Jordan Henderson’s cross was missed at the back post by Ryan Taylor, and Sterling had just the keeper to beat from six yards – yet somehow he rolled a tame shot wide.
It was an unlikely source who showed him how it should be done with 20 minutes remaining, as Joe Allen fired his first Premier League goal at Anfield in style. Newcastle failed to clear a corner, Emre Can put the ball back into the box, and the Wales midfielder fired a superb first time finish into the top corner after the ball had bounced into his path off Mike Williamson.
Sterling could have added a third from yet another Henderson cross, but once again he was off target from close range.
Sissoko was shown a second yellow for a bad challenge on Lucas late on, but it had no effect on the result as the Reds ran out comfortable winners to close the gap on fourth placed Manchester City to four points.