An off-key Liverpool were frustrated for a second successive game by struggling opponents as they were held to a 0-0 Premier League draw at Newcastle United on Wednesday.
Juergen Klopp’s side had the chance to open up a five-point lead at the top of the table, but a combination of wastefulness and Newcastle’s valiant rearguard kept them at bay.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were all guilty of poor finishing for the champions while Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow produced a couple of fine saves.
Liverpool were held 1-1 by second-bottom West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and also drew with struggling Fulham earlier this month.
Klopp’s team lead the table going into the New Year with 33 points from 16 games, but second-placed Manchester United are only three points behind with a match in hand.
“You might not think I have to tip my hat to my team but I like the performance,” Klopp said. “It was really good, can we play better football? Yes, but in this game we did more than enough to win it.
“The boys are frustrated and rightly so but not about the performance. You have to respect the result. It won’t stay like this forever and I know the boys will finish these situations.”
Newcastle climbed a place to 14th, eight points above the bottom three.
Liverpool enjoyed overwhelming possession early on but lacked their usual zip and it gave heart to a Newcastle side who had lost two and drawn one of their last three league games.
The visitors struggled to carve out chances but did so just past the half hour when Salah found himself in acres of space in the area but his shot was turned around the post by Darlow.
Darlow then beat away Firmino’s header from Mane’s cross as the hosts arrived at halftime on level terms.
Liverpool raised their tempo in the second half and Newcastle were forced deeper and deeper.
Mane headed wide and Salah again found himself with the goal at his mercy after taking Firmino’s slide rule pass but he guided his shot wide of the post.
Firmino headed another chance wide and Mane looked poised to tap in a loose ball but Fabian Schar produced a last-ditch clearance to avert the danger.
Darlow made another excellent save to keep out Firmino’s header but Ciaran Clark almost netted late on for Newcastle with a header that was clawed out by Alisson.