King Cole on a roll

Andy Cole hammered home a half-hour hat-trick to serve up a Sunday roasting at St James' Park.

Cole was superb amid the swirling snow and freezing temperatures as his burning pace and fiery finishing melted Liverpool's resistance.

The 22-year-old striker's treble took his tally for the season to 21 and he showed that he has come of age to become one of English soccer's hottest properties.

It took him just four minutes to carve open Liverpool as he pounced to stab home Robert Lee's cross from the left and beat goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar from close range.

Cole made it 2-0 after 16 minutes as Newcastle again sliced Liverpool's left flank.

Scott Sellars, in only his fourth game of the season, ran onto Peter Beardsley's defence-splitting pass to centre for Cole to glance home a low shot into the bottom far corner.

And then on the half-hour Sellars put another one on the plate for the rampant Cole, who duly struck to claim his third hat-trick of the season and few at St James' Park, Liverpool excluded, were complaining that he looked a yard offside.

The scoreboard above a gloating Gallowgate end flashed the message: "It's the Cole goal show", and the striker and Newcastle could have added more.

Sellars was denied by Grobbelaar in the 38th minute while Cole saw another close-range effort beaten out by the busy goalkeeper.

Lee Clark looked destined to score his first goal of the season before a last-ditch block by Neil Ruddock as Newcastle turned on a soccer feast for an all-ticket home crowd and the television audience watching on Sky.

But Liverpool, with John Barnes returning from injury as a second-half substitute to help stop the rot, might have cut the deficit with a late rally with goalkeeper Mike Hooper saving from Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp, but Newcastle deserved their three-goal triumph.
And it was especially sweet for Hooper and his former Anfield team-mates skipper Barry Venison and Peter Beardsley.

United manager Kevin Keegan and his coach Terry McDermott - Anfield legends - will also savour this thrilling victory over a club that has for so long stood as the epitome of what is good, even great, about the English game.

The times, though, are a-changing, and Newcastle showed they have the appetite to take over the Merseysiders' mantle.

Keegan said: "The first-half performance has got to be the best we have played in my time here. I know we were 6-0 at half time in the first division at Leicester last year but this was the Premier League and this was Liverpool. It was probably too much to expect the second-half to continue in the same vein and I was left feeling a bit flat when the game petered out. But when you are disappointed having won 3-0 then you know you are getting somewhere."

Keegan also praised hat-trick hero Cole.

Keegan added: "I am delighted for him because he loves scoring goals and I am delighted for the fans because they have a real idol. But my man-of-the-match was Peter Beardsley. He was winning little battles all over the pitch and was absolutely outstanding. But that's nothing unusual. I keep giving Andy Cole champagne for man-of-the-match but I think to myself that I should be giving it to Peter Beardsley. I know it sounds daft when Andy has scored three goals but that was one of his quieter days today. He'll play better than that on another day and not score."

Liverpool boss Graeme Souness admitted: "We got a doing in the first-half although the second-half was a bit more like it. Newcastle played very, very well but what was out there and sitting on the bench today were the only fit players at Liverpool Football Club. We have had to call off two club games this weekend because we have 23 professionals in the squad who are unfit. We came here without three of our regular back-four and this is not the sort of place you want to do that."

"We hoped for some time to settle down but the first goal came after just four minutes and the others in quick succession. If we hadn't conceded that early goal and if we had our regular back four perhaps it might have been different. But that's all maybes. Newcastle played extremely well. They will give anyone a game up here and their crowd is fantastic."

The victory lifted Newcastle to eighth position in the table.

Copyright - British Soccer Week


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