Returning skipper Steven Gerrard sealed victory over Newcastle following two Craig Bellamy goals as Liverpool rose to fifth in the Premier League.

Gerrard, who made his second appearance since returning from injury, capped a fine cameo when he tucked in late on.

Bellamy had earlier fired in a low shot to level after Daniel Agger diverted Ryan Taylor's cross past Pepe Reina.

And the former Magpie gave Liverpool the lead from a free-kick before Gerrard scored from a tight angle.

His goal was fully merited after a performance which invigorated Kenny Dalglish's side just as Newcastle were beginning to claw their way back into the contest.

The defeat for Newcastle means they have won once in their last eight league outings and perhaps it was a surprise that Liverpool had not added a third goal sooner, such was the quality of Gerrard's deliveries into the box.

Liverpool attitude and commitment pleases Dalglish

But unfortunately for them, Andy Carroll had another night in which he failed to find the target despite crashing a header against the bar from a superb Gerrard centre as he extended his run without a goal to nine matches.

After a period in which Liverpool struggled to turn chances into goals and drew six of their nine games at Anfield, Gerrard's return following an ankle problem that had kept him out since October will have given them a huge lift as they embark on their quest for a Champions League spot.

And it will also give them hope that they can sustain that challenge should leading goalscorer Luis Suarez's eight-match ban for alleged racist comments towards Manchester United's Patrice Evra be upheld.

With the Uruguayan banned for making a gesture towards Fulham's fans in a separate incident, Bellamy took his place in the side and the Welshman was a constant threat down Liverpool's left as he looked to support lone striker Carroll, who was also up against his previous club.

GERRARD FAST FACTS

  • Steven Gerrard has made just 15 Liverpool appearances in 2011
  • Gerrard has scored seven goals in his last nine Premier League games against Newcastle United.

While the two former Magpies were full of endeavour, their willingness to be involved in the build-up meant there were several occasions when there was no-one in the box to finish their good work.

And in keeping with their promising season thus far, Newcastle withstood the early pressure to pounce from an isolated attack on 25 minutes.

Top scorer Demba Ba has lit up the Premier League this season with 14 goals in his last 13 games and his presence had a hand in the goal as Ryan Taylor's cross from the left was nodded on by Yohan Cabaye and with Ba in close quarters the ball diverted off Agger past Reina.

Having been on top up until that point, Liverpool were stung into life by that goal, although the visitors almost looked like they had cleared the danger.

Cheick Tiote cleared Charlie Adam's low cross from the right, but with men lined in front of goal, Bellamy found the bottom corner.

Dalglish's side pressed further after that and Martin Skrtel went close with a near-post header from a corner, with Adam also inches away from diverting it into the net.

Pardew frustrated by 'cheap' free kick

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew introduced Davide Santon at the break and it seemed to stem the flow down Newcastle's left as the Magpies began to improve their ball retention and their status in the game.

That was enough for Dalglish to bring on Gerrard, and the Liverpool skipper was involved straight away on his 15th outing of 2011, twice picking out Carroll, with the striker being let down by a poor first touch on the second occasion when he was unmarked in the box.

Fortunately for him and Liverpool, they took the lead on 76 minutes though they were a tad lucky to be given a free-kick when Tiote challenged Agger.

Bellamy stepped up to curl a delicious free-kick in, but Danny Simpson made a real hash of defending the line by deflecting the ball past Tim Krul.

Newcastle came close to equalising soon after when Ba somehow clipped the ball past Reina from Cabaye's cute pass, with the French midfielder perhaps fortunate not to be punished for an earlier tackle on Jay Spearing, but Skrtel's goal-line clearance was equally impressive.

Carroll then smashed a header against the bar from Gerrard's cross, but the returning talisman showed his team-mate how to finish when he collected Jordan Henderson's through ball to finish from a tight angle.

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