Peter Crouch, Steven Gerrard and Djibril Cisse helped Liverpool close the gap on Manchester United to two points with a 3-1 win at 10-man Newcastle.
The Reds made a bright start with Crouch heading just wide, but the much-maligned striker made no mistake in the 10th minute when he ghosted in between Peter Ramage and Jean-Alain Boumsong to head Jan Kromkamp's cross past Shay Given at the back post.
The visitors continued to threaten with Djibril Cisse firing wildly over, before Newcastle spurned two good chances with first Alan Shearer poking wide and then Charles N'Zogbia forcing Jose Reina to parry his shot.
But the Magpies found themselves 2-0 down on 35 minutes before the interval when Gerrard drilled a low shot into the corner after Crouch had laid the ball into his captain's path following Cisse's deep right-wing cross.
However, a Shola Ameobi header on 40 minutes gave Newcastle hope, the rangy frontman springing the offside trap to loop a header over Reina following Scott Parker's cross.
The hosts could even have levelled on the stroke of half-time but Boumsong failed to connect with a header from eight yards following Nolberto Solano's free-kick into the danger zone.
But Liverpool restored their two-goal advantage when Boumsong saw red after his mistake let in Crouch and he hauled him to the ground in the area. The hapless French defender was shown a straight red card and Cisse stepped up to convert from the spot.
The Reds had further chances to extend their lead through Cisse and substitute Luis Garcia, while Given produced two top-class late saves to deny Gerrard and then Kromkamp.
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