Liverpool keep up Champions League charge

Victory over Newcastle leaves Liverpool breathing down the necks of the misfiring Man City team

(Image credit: Getty)

Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0. A comfortable win over Newcastle maintained Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

The victory, courtesy of goals in each half from Raheem Stirling and Joe Allen, moved the Reds above Southampton into fifth spot. They are now four points behind Manchester City but with the Sky Blues' season in danger of disintegration there remains a strong possibility that Liverpool will be back in Europe's showpiece tournament next season.

"We feel we have every chance," said Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers when asked if he believed his side can finish in the top four. "Of course, we're looking for other teams to slip up."

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Predicting that there will be "plenty of twists and turns to come" between now and the final weekend of Premier League action on May 24, Rodgers emphasised the importance of taking three points from Newcastle, who have now lost their last five league matches.

"We knew we had to win," he said. "If we keep winning our games we'll see what will happen. We've got important players coming back now. Manchester City have maybe opened up the door a wee bit."

It was Sterling who opened up the Magpies' defence after just nine minutes, the England forward cutting inside Ryan Taylor before curling the ball past Tim Krul in the visitors' goal.

Allen doubled the Reds' advantage on 70 minutes with a crisp half-volley and Newcastle's sorry night ended with a red card for Moussa Sissoko, shown a second yellow card for a nasty challenge on Lucas Leiva

Liverpool now switch their attention to Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa before their visit to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday week. That's the first of four away matches in their remaining six league encounters, including a trip to Stamford Bridge on 10 May to play league leaders Chelsea. But their other matches are against sides outside the top nine and will strengthen Liverpool's belief that they can still qualify for the Champions League.

City – in danger of failing to finish in the top four for the first time since 2011 – have a harder run-in with four matches against top ten teams, including visits to Swansea and Spurs. City's last game of the season is a home clash against Southampton, themselves still in with a shout of qualifying for the Champions League.

Meanwhile Rodgers has confirmed he will be speaking to Sterling about his off-field behaviour after a picture emerged of him smoking a shisha pipe, as well as footage of him inhaling the legal high nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas.

"I don't think it is something you should be doing, it's as simple as that," said Rodgers. "Young players make mistakes. As long as they learn from them, that is what is important."

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