Eddie Howe hit back at suggestions that his Newcastle United substitutes cost his side against Liverpool.
Anthony Gordon’s 25th-minute strike and Virgil van Dijk’s red card shortly after put the Magpies well in control only for substitute Darwin Nunez to net a late brace to inflict a shock defeat.
United have only lost five games at St James’ Park since Howe took charge in November 2021 - and three of them have been to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
“That’s as painful as the game at Anfield last year for me and for us. I thought we played really well today. The opening stages of the game can’t be forgotten by me in regards to the team’s performance and reflection on how the game went. I thought we were excellent, individual peformances were very strong.
“The sending off almost harms us really in the match, although the chances were there for us to kill the game. I think the second goal changes everything and we didn’t get it. You know then when Nunez comes on they’re looking for one moment and they didn’t just get one, they got two.
“Whenever you lose in those circumstances very late, it’s hugely painful. It’s difficult to take and accept but you have to. The deflection off Sven’s back and then his heel into Nunez’s path - that’s not something you can describe or think will happen in the game. It’s a great finish, I have to say.
“At that moment, we should maybe accept we’re not going to win the game but definitely don’t lose it. We made a mistake and they scored again.
While Klopp’s changes, including Harvey Elliot and Diogo Jota, inspired the Reds to victory, United’s struggled to make an impact. Howe brought on £58million-rated duo Harvey Barnes and Callum Wilson, plus Sean Longstaff in the 77th minute before Nunez netted in the 81st and 93rd minute.
“There are always things you’d do differently if you don’t win the match, that’s for sure,” admitted Howe.
“We tried to change the momentum of the match. Liverpool had a flurry of set-plays and there was some pressure in that moment and we wanted a bit more control. But Liverpool are a very, very dangerous counter-attacking team.
“In hindsight you’d always do things differently when you’re in my shoes, that’s the job you’re in. We have to trust our bench, we have to trust top-quality players. We have Harvey Barnes, Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff - Sean and Callum were outstanding for us last year so I can’t fear putting them on the pitch because they’re top quality players as is Harvey.
“Sometimes when you make those changes it doesn’t go as you foresee but the same thing could have happened leaving the same players on the pitch. That’s the game we’re in.
When asked by NewcastleWorld if Liverpool won the game on their changes and Newcastle lost the game on theirs, Howe replied: “I can only talk about my team and I’m certainly not going to blame the three subs that came on the pitch as to why we didn’t win the match. Absolutely not, I don’t think they were directly involved in the goals.
“That isn’t a collective responsibility, that’s trying to blame and we never do that. I thought the three lads that came on tried to impact the game in the way that we wanted them to but sometimes football goes against you and sometimes it goes for you. Today’s a tough one.”