Liverpool bounced back from two successive league defeats with a 2-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night, as goals from Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen saw Brendan Rodgers' side close the gap on Manchester City to four points and move up to fifth in what Brendan Rodgers described as an "outstanding" performance.

The home side took the lead after just nine minutes, as Sterling waved away recent controversy as he latched onto Jordan Henderson's pass to beat Tim Krul and record his 11th goal of the season. They were unlucky not have added a second when Dejan Lovren set up Albert Moreno, but galvanised by the opening goal, Krul was not prepared to make the same mistake twice as he saved from a tight angle.

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Liverpool's forwards certainly kept Newcastle's goalkeeper busy as but despite their dominant start, Liverpool squandered a handful of chances in the opening half. Newcastle thought they had been handed a way back into the match as Lovren appeared to foul Ayoze Perez, but Newcastle's penalty claims fell upon deaf ears as referee Lee Mason dismissed the incident.

Liverpool wrapped up the win with a second goal courtesy of Joe Allen after 72 minutes, meaning that the Merseyside club now rekindle their hopes of Champions League qualification. That was helped by defending champions' Manchester City's stumble at Manchester United the previous day, a defeat that Brendan Rodgers said "opened the door" to the top 4 with six fixtures remaining. "In the last six games of the season, there are still so many twists in it yet.

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As long as we can win the games it keeps putting pressure on the teams above us." There was no denying that Rodgers felt both relief and delight at equal measure as the full-time whistle blew, as his Liverpool side have failed to live up to the promise they showed last term.

This time last year, Liverpool were title contenders, only for Steven Gerrard's slip to cost them dear in their match against Chelsea. This season, however, Rodgers is relying on others to slip up, though figuratively perhaps, rather than literally as we saw Gerrard do so on the Anfield turf last April. "We feel we have every chance," he said. "Of course, we're looking for other teams to slip up."

Many feel that Liverpool over-achieved last season, and the loss of Luis Suarez in a £75 million move to Barcelona has been felt keenly this term. But the fact that Manchester City are now within touching distance of Liverpool will instil a real confidence, and with a relatively straightforward run to the end of the season - albeit with an away trip to Chelsea to contend with - Rodgers' men will feel they are now in with a real fighting chance of finishing in that all-important top 4 spot.

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Meanwhile, the Reds could yet finish the season with some silverware, as they play Aston Villa on Sunday for a place in the FA Cup final. Rodgers is hopeful that the injured Daniel Sturridge will return for that clash, and should he regain and maintain fitness, Liverpool's chances of finishing in the Champions League qualifying places for the second successive season will suddenly seem a lot more realistic.