Mitrovic saves Newcastle, Mane sinks Liverpool
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored an 83rd-minute equalizer as Newcastle United prevented northeast rivals Sunderland from escaping the Premier League relegation zone in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
Seeking a seventh successive win over Newcastle, Sunderland took the lead in the 44th minute at St James’ Park when Jermain Defoe volleyed home left-footed after Rob Elliot had parried a shot from Fabio Borini.
But with seven minutes remaining, Georginio Wijnaldum crossed for Serbian striker Mitrovic to score with a downward header, sparing Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez from defeat in his first home game and keeping both teams in the bottom three.
“The players fought till the end and the fans were behind us in a difficult situation,” said Benitez.
“We have to do this from the first minute to the last to get more points. I think we can stay up.”
With eight games each to play, third-bottom Sunderland are two points from safety, with Newcastle a point behind in 19th place.
In the day’s other early game, Sadio Mane scored twice — and squandered a penalty — as Southampton checked Liverpool’s charge towards the top four by storming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at St Mary’s.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool went 2-0 up inside 22 minutes, Philippe Coutinho curling in a fine effort from 25 yards and Divock Origi teeing up Daniel Sturridge to score.
Senegal international Mane, a half-time replacement for Dusan Tadic, saw a penalty saved by Simon Mignolet early in the second half after Martin Skrtel was adjudged to have fouled Graziano Pelle.
But Mane sped past Mamadou Sakho to reduce the arrears and after Pelle equalised with a vicious shot in the 83rd minute, the Italian freed Mane to run through and score an 86th-minute winner.
“The first half we played brilliant football,” said Klopp.
“We have to close the game out. You have to accept that in the second half they controlled the game.”
It meant that Liverpool failed to put pressure on Manchester City and Manchester United, who face off at the Etihad Stadium later on Sunday.
City currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League berth, a point above West Ham United and four points above both Manchester United and Southampton, with Liverpool three points further back in ninth place.
The day’s other game sees second-place Tottenham Hotspur host Bournemouth, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side bidding to cut leaders Leicester City’s advantage back to five points.