Magpies deny Gerrard perfect week
Steven Gerrard left Newcastle bemoaning a frustrating end to what might have been the perfect week.
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Four days after leading England to the World Cup finals in Brazil, the 33-year-old midfielder claimed his 100th Barclays Premier League goal at St James' Park.
However, the 10-man Magpies ensured Gerrard did not have things all his own way as they battled their way to a hard-earned 2-2 draw.
The Reds briefly topped the league table until Arsenal and Chelsea overhauled them on Saturday evening, and that proved some consolation.
Gerrard told the club's official website, www.liverpoolfc.com: "If someone had said to me in pre-season that we would be top of the league after this amount of games, of course I would have been really happy.
"But I'm slightly frustrated that we couldn't take maximum points and have top outright come the end of play.
"If we had got the win, it would have been the perfect week. The week has gone really well from an international point of view, and getting the goal was fantastic.
"But I always search for perfection, so I'm sadly a little bit down that we haven't taken maximum points."
Liverpool found themselves behind after 23 minutes when Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye beat goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from 30 yards with a dipping, swerving shot.
However, the game changed five minutes before the break when Luis Suarez was pulled back by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa inside the box.
Referee Andre Marriner immediately awarded a penalty and produced a red card, and Gerrard exacted full revenge by sending the resulting spot-kick low to Tim Krul's right to level and complete his century.
But Newcastle were not done and the 10 men restored their lead within 12 minutes of the restart when 22-year-old Paul Dummett, a specialist left-back who had been drafted into central defence from the bench following Yanga-Mbiwa's untimely exit, side-footed a Cabaye free-kick home at the far post.
The Reds' response was concerted and sustained and they eventually got their reward with 18 minutes remaining when Suarez produced the perfect cross for Daniel Sturridge to head past Krul from close range.
Krul had to produce a fine save from the game's final passage of play to keep out the Uruguay international's 96th-minute free-kick, and the visitors had to make do with a point.
Gerrard was delighted with his own personal milestone, but admitted he would have swapped it for another two points.
He said: "It's a good milestone for me and a great personal achievement, but I'd certainly swap the goal for two extra points, that's for sure.
"Points for the team and where we finish in the league are my priority; if personal milestones get crossed off along the way, then great.
"From the sending-off, we were brilliant. We played some really good stuff but, frustratingly for us, it wasn't enough."
If Gerrard claimed most of the headlines, there was praise too for a midfielder at the other end of his career.
Jordan Henderson turned in another accomplished display on his return to his native north-east to leave manager Brendan Rodgers singing his praises.
The 23-year-old, who joined the club in a £16million switch from Sunderland in June 2011, has taken time to find his feet at Anfield, but Rodgers believes fans are now starting to realise what an asset he is and will be.
He said: "He's an outstanding young player. I think he is going to be a top player over many years for Liverpool.
"He will be an unsung hero. He is one of those guys who does a lot of work and over time, supporters will really appreciate and I think that's what's happening now.
"I have been really impressed. Tactically his understanding of the game is improving - you see the composure he is playing with now.
"He has got great physicality. His stature - he's a big boy, he can run, he has got legs and he presses the ball well. As I say, he has composure on the ball and at 23 years of age, all the best years ahead of him.
"He has shown now that he has got the real temperament to play at a big club and the quality, so he is going to be a very important player for us for now and for the future."
Meanwhile, Rodgers confirmed that full-back Jose Enrique had missed the return to his former club with a niggling knee injury.