Newcastle United picked up a well-earned point against the champions Liverpool at St James’ Park to head out of 2020 on a positive note.
The stalemate against the champions came courtesy of another man of the match display from Karl Darlow while Fabian Schar also saved Newcastle’s bacon with a frantic goal-line clearance.
United did not quite have enough in the tank to take all three points but they will be justifiably pleased with themselves for earning a point against an excellent Liverpool side.
Steve Bruce will have been particularly pleased to see a performance from his side after a gloomy week which included a League Cup exit at Brentford and defeat against Man City.
There were signs from the start that Newcastle were in the mood to cause something of an upset.
Just two minutes had been played when Callum Wilson escaped down the right-hand side and attempted to float the ball into the box with Alisson having to tip the ball to safety before Liverpool easily dealt with the resultant corner.
The Magpies then won a free-kick on the right-hand side with Jacob Murphy delivering the ball into the danger area and Wilson heading wide of the target.
Wilson then raced clear down the left and managed to get his shot away but Alisson managed a sprawling stop to deny him and force another corner on 13 minutes.
Liverpool’s first attempt on target arrived on 16 minutes when Milner hit a low shot but Karl Darlow easily gathered.
The Magpies then created another chance when Wilson waited intelligently before slipping in DeAndre Yedlin on the overlap before the USA international’s low shot took a deflection and went out for another corner.
Jurgen Klopp’s side though looked dangerous whenever they poured forward and after Milner’s ball into the box Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot was saved well by Darlow after 25 minutes.
A fine build-up by Newcastle on 33 minutes played in Isaac Hayden but he hooked wide despite having a few more seconds to anticipate the opportunity.
If United needed any reminder of who they were up against though it arrived moments later when Wearsider Jordan Henderson played in Mo Salah.
Salah looked like he was about to put Liverpool into the lead but Darlow’s rushed out and got a touch on the ball and forced the corner.
With Martin Dubravka now back, Darlow has the Slovakia international breathing down his neck but he is up for the challenge.
Darlow underlined that again just before the break when he made an outstanding save to keep out Firmino’s eight-yard header at the Gallowgate End to keep the champions at bay going into the interval.
The second half opened up with Newcastle on the front-foot as Yedlin was upended by Fabinho, who was booked for his trouble before Murphy’s free-kick was easily cleared by the Reds.
A Joelinton attempt at an overhead kick at least suggested that confidence was not an issue but United prodded and probed the champions.
Liverpool were afforded a glimpse of goal on 54 minutes when a corner was swirled in but Sadio Mane headed wide of the target.
Bruce’s side made it past the hour mark with the game goal-less with last gasp challenges and clearances required against the 2019 European champions.
There were Toon hearts in mouths when Firmino’s pass into the final third picked out Salah again but he could only steer his effort wide.
Bruce made his first change of the night when Miguel Almiron replaced Murphy on 66 minutes before Newcastle old boy Gini Wijnaldum replaced Curtis Jones soon after.
Newcastle had a great chance when Joelinton was fouled by Nathaniel Phillips on the right-hand side.
Ritchie whipped in the free-kick for Clark who sent a header at goal but Alisson saved it low down.
Liverpool thought they’d snatched the lead on their next attack though.
Alexander-Arnold played the ball in for Mane with Darlow pushing the ball on to the Liverpool star and the ball spinning towards the net, only for Fabian Schar to sweep clear on the line to make a sensational clearance.
Darlow denied Firmino with a header with two minutes remaining to make another crucial save.
The Toon stopper has been a key man this season but this performance justifies talk of an England call-up.