Liverpool beats 10-man Newcastle to boost EPL top-4 hopes

NEWCASTLE, England -- — Liverpool won at 10-man Newcastle 2-0 and boosted its push for a top-four finish in the English Premier League on Saturday.

The result ended Newcastle's 17-game unbeaten streak in the league and handed Eddie Howe's team just a second loss of the season — both of them against Liverpool.

A rampant Liverpool was already two goals up by the time Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope was sent off in the 22nd minute for a straight red card after handling the ball outside the area. That made the rest of the game largely a matter of seeing things out for the visitors, who cut the gap to fourth-placed Newcastle to six points and have a game in hand to boot.

Darwin Nunez opened the scoring with an emphatic finish in the 10th minute after Trent Alexander-Arnold sent a ball over the top of the defense to the Uruguayan forward, who managed to control it with the help of his chest before firing past Pope.

Mohamed Salah then picked out Gakpo in the area with a delicate chip seven minutes later and the Netherlands international finished clinically to double the lead. Gakpo, who joined from PSV Eindhoven in January, netted his first Liverpool goal on Monday in the 2-0 win over Everton.

Matters only got worse for Newcastle when Pope rushed out to meet a kick up the field by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and attempted a diving header to prevent Salah from coming clear on goal. Pope made a total mess of his attempt, though, and then grabbed the ball with his hand in what looked like an inadvertent reflex.

Going a man down seemed to galvanize Newcastle and Allan Saint-Maximin managed to force a good save from Alisson in the 31st.

Liverpool missed chances to increase the lead in the second half.

The visitors passed their way through the Newcastle defense in the 75th to give Andy Robertson a chance but he opted to square the ball back toward Salah, whose pass was off target.

Salah tried to tee up Alexander-Arnold after a quick counter in the 80th, but that pass was deflected for a corner. The Egyptian went for goal himself a minute later but shot only tamely at substitute goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle had its best chance to get back in the game when Anthony Gordon led a counterattack and fed Callum Wilson, whose low shot was saved by Alisson.

Pope's red card means he will be suspended for the League Cup final against Manchester United next weekend, while Joelinton also went off with an apparent hamstring problem.

A moment of silence was held before the game for former Newcastle forward Christian Atsu, who died in the earthquake in Turkey at the age of 31.

Liverpool center back Virgil van Dijk made his return after sitting out for nearly six weeks with a hamstring injury.