Forget Darlow: £4.5m-rated Newcastle gem Rafa loved was Bruce’s true hero vs Liverpool – opinion

Forget Darlow: £4.5m-rated Newcastle gem Rafa loved was Bruce’s true hero vs Liverpool – opinion

DeAndre Yedlin was Steve Bruce’s real star as Newcastle United produced a defensive masterclass to secure a point at home to Liverpool on Wednesday night.

Bruce welcomed Jurgen Klopp’s champions to St. James’ Park and saw his players prove resilient in the face of danger to record the first goalless league draw between the Magpies and Reds since February 1974, 69 meetings ago.

The result also saw Liverpool fail to score in a Premier League fixture for the first time in 21 matches, having been denied throughout by a sublime display from Karl Darlow to prevent Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool had a string of chances during their time on Tyneside to end the year on a high and move five points clear at the top of the table, yet were forced to accept a stalemate with Fabian Schar saving Darlow’s clean sheet 10 minutes from time by clearing off the line after a fortuitous rebound for Sadio Mane.

Yedlin often had Mane, plus Reds full-back Andrew Robertson, in his back pocket as he continued to hold down honours at right-back in Bruce’s plans, after taking over the role at home to Fulham.

The 27-year-old, who continues to be linked with a move away from St. James’ with his £30,000-per-week contract due to expire next summer, has now started Newcastle’s last three league games and proved against Liverpool why the position has become his.

Yedlin continually brought exuberant overlapping runs in partnership with Jacob Murphy down United’s right-hand channel, while contributing an array of vital tackles and coming close to only his fourth-ever Toon goal when his 17th-minute effort was deflected wide.

Salah fell victim to the 62-cap USA international, whom Rafa Benitez once declared “I love this player” for, late in the first-half when Yedlin timed his challenge to perfection to snatch the ball as the Egyptian sought to release the trigger.

Yedlin saw out the midweek meeting with two successful tackles to his name in total, while registering two interceptions and six clearances, per SofaScore.

He additionally won five of his six ground duels, never committed a foul, was successful with his only attempted dribble and provided one key ball from 11 accurate passes, despite failing to connect with a Magpies teammate with his only cross of the night.

Javier Manquillo may have returned to the matchday squad at Manchester City on Boxing Day, while Emil Krafth once again took a seat on the bench at home to Liverpool, but both will struggle to displace Yedlin from the starting line-up should he maintain his current form.

AND in other news, an “unplayable” £75k-p/w Newcastle United player is in-demand ahead of the January transfer window.

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