| Real Madrid’s Raul and Alain Boghossian of Espanyol in an aerial duel during their season-opening Spanish League tie at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid Monday. (Reuters)
London: Newcastle came from 0-2 down in the final ten minutes to force a 2-2 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League match at Anfield Monday.
All four goals came in an exciting second half as Liverpool, chasing a victory that would have put them top of the table, went ahead through Dietmar Hamann. Michael Owen converted a penalty to make it 2-0.
Newcastle were given a lifeline in the 80th minute by Gary Speed before Alan Shearer stole in to knock home a header and ensured a point for Bobby Robson’s side. In the final minute of normal time Shearer’s toe poke almost beat ’keeper Jerzy Dudek.
Although Liverpool had the consolation of seeing Owen score his first goal of the season, they also saw the forward miss a succession of chances in a match they dominated.
“It should have been finished,” coach Gerard Houllier said.
“If we are disappointed with the result, I thought it was a great game of football. I thought we were a bit unlucky not to have the three points tonight. Every game we are getting better. I don’t think all our players are at their best at the moment. The strikers aren’t up to their best level,” the Frenchman added.
Liverpool’s persistence eventually told early in the second period. Ireland ’keeper Shay Given’s poor clearance caught Peruvian midfielder Nolberto Solano in trouble on the edge of the box. Hamann stepped in and finished with a classy left-footer.
In the 63rd minute Newcastle boss Robson decided to make a triple substitution with Jermaine Jenas coming on for Solano, Wales striker Craig Bellamy replacing Lomana Tresor Lualua and the experienced Laurent Robert taking over from Hugo Viana.
A revitalised Newcastle were nearly rewarded with an equaliser. Robert’s 25-yard strike was tipped onto the post by Dudek, Shearer followed up but his left-foot strike was cleared. But just when Newcastle were getting into the game, Greek defender Nikos Dabizas conceded the penalty.
Newcastle though were far from finished. Robert and Bellamy climbed up the left before the latter’s centre was swept in by Speed. And in the 88th minute Shearer rose above the Liverpool defence to power in a header from Robert’s corner.
Real win 2-0
Real Madrid beat Espanyol 2-0 Monday in their first match of the Spanish league with new recruit Ronaldo watching proceedings from the director’s box, adds a report from Madrid.
The Brazilian was given a thunderous ovation when he took his place and Real played some elegant football to take control of the midfield. However, they rarely looked like emulating the 5-1 thrashing they handed out to the Barcelona-based visitors in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.
Spanish international midfielder Ivan Helguera nodded home a Luis Figo corner after 34 minutes to get Real Madrid off the mark, although the ball was given a helping hand into the net by goalkeeper Sergi Sanchez.
English midfielder Steve McManaman added to Espanyol’s woes two minutes before the whistle by catching the defence napping and latching onto a perfectly timed Raul pass to slot past Sanchez. McManaman spent just eight minutes on the pitch six minutes, coming on as a substitute for Figo.
Indicative of the fact that trouble could be ahead in the Real Madrid dressing room —after the transfer of Ronaldo from Inter Milan — Fernando Morientes was given cheers which reached the rafters of the stadium when he came on with ten minutes to go.
The Spanish international striker is the man most likely to lose his place in the starting line-up with the arrival of the World Cup winner.
Several players, including captain Fernando Hierro, have already made it known that they are unhappy with the way Real president Florentino Perez has treated Morientes.