Liverpool are up to fifth after goals from Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez completed a 3-0 victory over Newcastle.

The Reds have leapfrogged Tottenham on goal difference to occupy a Europa League place - though Spurs have a game in hand.

Kenny Dalglish's side have now scored 11 and conceded none in their last three home games - and the momentum is theirs as the race for Europe draws to a conclusion.

Liverpool were buoyed by the return of full-back Glen Johnson after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Andy Carroll, however, was deemed fit enough only for a place on the bench against a club where he scored 33 goals in 91 games.

That meant Maxi retained his place on the back of a hat-trick against Birmingham City last week.

And it wasn't long before the Argentine reacquainted himself with Anfield's netting. There were just 10 minutes on the clock when a lovely sequence of Liverpool passing ended with Maxi half-volleying past Tim Krul via the leg of Danny Simpson.

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A period of relative calm followed before Jay Spearing eyed a shooting opportunity from 25 yards. Krul could only parry his whack but recovered before either Kuyt or Raul Meireles could conclude their attempted ambush.

Shola Ameobi connected with a Joey Barton header as Newcastle threatened for the first time after half-an-hour, and there followed an uncomfortable interlude where the visitors cannonballed dead balls into Liverpool's box.

The hosts responded when Lucas got his forehead to a John Flanagan cross. His attempt was good but Krul was aware.

The second half began with close calls at either end: Barton firing wide from a Kevin Nolan centre and Suarez dancing past a couple of defenders at the Kop end before his shot was almost deflected beyond Krul by Mike Williamson.

The Uruguayan made a nuisance of himself again on 58 minutes to earn Liverpool a penalty, hassling Williamson when most others would have let it be. Possession was gained and in a bid to recover the Newcastle defender grabbed hold of Suarez's shirt. Referee Peter Walton showed no hesitation and neither did Kuyt, sending Krul the wrong way to make it 2-0.

It was Kuyt's 14th goal of the season in all competitions - and his eighth in his last seven league outings.

For his next trick the Holland international turned provider, diverting the ball into the path of Suarez on 65 minutes with a sweet flick of his right boot. The No.7 couldn't miss from six yards out.

With the points secure, Dalglish introduced Carroll to a standing ovation from the Kop.

But it was Meireles who was next to threaten, coming within inches of making it 4-0 with a diving header from Johnson's cross.

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