A brace from Newcastle United's bargain signing, Papis Demba Cisse, was enough to comfortably see off a very ordinary Liverpool, in this Premier League fixture at the Sports Direct Arena.
This game was an important one for a number of reasons, for both clubs as well as £35m man Andy Carroll, who was making his Tyneside return after having joined Liverpool. It was not a happy return.
Carroll, who along with Chelsea's Fernando Torres, has been vilifed as a striker who simply cannot score, did himself no favours by being booked for diving after just 10 minutes. The Gateshead-born forward was through on goal and was going around Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul for an open goal, when, for some inexplicable reason, he decided to tumble and ask for a penalty. All he got was a yellow card from referee Martin Atkinson, a few angry looks from teammates and, no doubt, a talking to from Kenny Dalglish at half-time.
The game had another edge to it - it was billed as Liverpool's last chance to catch Newcastle and Chelsea, in the race for fifth in the league and the last European football spot for next season. The defeat now means the Reds are a whopping 11 points behind the Blues and Newcastle and with only seven games remaining, surely any chance of European football has gone down the drain.
Back at the Sports Direct Arena, after Carroll's caution for simulation, it was up to the home team's Papiss Cisse to show the former Newcastle man how to stick the ball in the back of the net... with minimum fuss. The goal was created, on the counter, by French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who first went past Jay Spearing and then Jonjo Shelvey, to set up Cisse with a header at the back post; it was Newcastle 1 - Liverpool 0.
However, despite the fact they were trailing and not really playing the better football, Liverpool did manage extended spells of possession, with their second former Magpie, Craig Bellamy, creating quite a few problems for his old club down their left flank. Indeed, had the Reds a better finisher in the box, it is quite likely the final result could have been a little different.
The first half finished with a few more chances for Liverpool, the most notable of which were scrambles in the Newcastle box following crosses from Bellamy and Steven Gerrard. Newcastle could have ended the half on a real high, though, except for Cisse missing the goal from a Danny Guthrie cross.
The second half saw Newcastle start from where they left off, with only the post saving Liverpool from conceding the second at that stage; Michael Williamson's header from another Guthrie cross hit the woodwork.
Liverpool, to their credit, did grow into the game in the second half, probably as a result of stern half-time talk from Dalglish. Whatever the reason though, Bellamy, Gerrard and Shelvey started to look a little lively and forced a few saves from Krul.
However, the second goal of the evening, when it came, fell again to that man - Papiss Cisse.
The Senegalese international calmly slotted home from close range, after Demba Ba and Ben Arfa combined excellently.
That was it as far as Liverpool were concerned. Dalglish, rather belatedly, took Carroll off later in the half, replacing him with Dirk Kuyt. However, except for a late chance for an unusually quiet Luis Suarez, Liverpool could offer nothing more and succumbed to the 11th defeat of the campaign.
The icing on Liverpool's miserable afternoon was a late red card for goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who, for some reason known only to himself, chose to headbutt James Perch in the 83rd minute. Reina will now face an automatic three-match ban, meaning Liverpool will be without their first-choice keeper for the games against Villa (home), Blackburn (away) and West Brom (home).
Newcastle now have 53 points from 31 games and are in sixth place. They trail Chelsea by goal difference. Their next game is away to Swansea City, on 6 April.
Liverpool now have 42 points from 31 games and are in eighth place, a point behind local rivals Everton. Their next game is at home to Aston Villa on 7 April.
Newcastle United 2 (Papiss Cisse, 19' and 59') beat Liverpool 0