Champions Liverpool ended 2020 where they began it – on top of the Premier League table – but were left to rue missed chances as they dropped points for the second successive match with a 0-0 draw at Newcastle on Wednesday.
Mohamed Salah missed two golden chances while keeper Karl Darlow made a number of top saves as a battling Newcastle side hung on for a point.
The result means Liverpool will go into 2021 three points clear of Manchester United, having played a game more.
“We had big chances,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.
“You might not think I have to tip my hat to my team but I like the performance. It was really good, can we play better football? Yes, but in this game we did more than enough to win it.
“I think we had four 100 per cent chances. We have won against Newcastle before with fewer chances. Tonight we didn’t but we accept that.”
Having drawn at home with lowly West Brom three days ago, Liverpool began slowly but Salah almost put them in front in the first half, only for Darlow to turn around his shot around the post.
Liverpool were much improved in the second half but Darlow and the entire Newcastle defence held on, keeping the reigning champions scoreless for the first time in 22 Premier League matches.
Salah fired wide from a great position, Roberto Firmino forced Darlow into a smart save from a header and the Newcastle defence cleared the ball off the line on two occasions.
At the other end, Alisson made a good save to deny Ciaran Clark’s header for Newcastle and although the introduction of Thiago Alcantara, returning from injury, made a difference, Liverpool could not find the goal they needed.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce was delighted with his side’s performance.
“The goalkeeper has produced some great saves but the spirit and attitude (was great) and we created a few chances ourselves,” he said.
“When you play against arguably one of the best teams in the world you need a bit of luck but the spirit and the endeavour was there for all to see.”
Klopp said being top of the table at the end of the year meant little with so much work still to be done.
“The last thing I’m thinking about is our position in the table at the moment,” he said.
“It’s nice but it doesn’t mean anything. We drew tonight and we are still top of the table so that just shows how difficult the season is for everybody.
“When life gives you lemons make lemonade. We have to keep going, next game, Southampton, Aston Villa, Man United. We didn’t get the result we wanted but it’s not the worst thing in the world, there are worse things happening.”
Tottenham’s home match with Fulham was postponed on Wednesday after a number of positive COVID-19 cases in the visitors’ squad.