Liverpool beat Newcastle United 3-0 at Anfield on Sunday to maintain their pursuit of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table and send Newcastle deeper into relegation trouble at the bottom.
A goal off Yossi Benayoun's knee and a diving header from Dirk Kuyt put Liverpool in control in the first half and substitute Lucas headed in the third three minutes from time.
Second-placed Liverpool moved to 77 points with three matches to play. Leaders United have 80 points and four matches remaining.
Newcastle, who had Joey Barton sent off in the second half for a wild challenge on Xabi Alonso, remain in the relegation zone with 31 points from 35 matches. With three games to play they are three points behind Hull City, who occupy the safe 17th spot.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said he was happy with the victory but added his side could have scored more goals as they chase their first title since 1990.
"We have to wait for United to make a mistake and just have to keep going and we will," he told Setanta Sports News after the game. "We have the right mentality and we will keep fighting."
Asked if Barton had deserved the straight red care, Newcastle's interim manager Alan Shearer said: "Yes. He apologised. He is now suspended for the rest of the season. We placed our trust in him and yes we feel let down."
Liverpool, starting the match six points behind United, had skipper Steven Gerrard back in midfield after missing three games with injury, but were without striker Fernando Torres, sidelined with a hamstring strain.
Shearer dropped former England striker Michael Owen to the bench after nine matches without a goal. He came on for the last 10 minutes, got a mixed reaction from his former fans and made little impact on the match.
Liverpool went ahead after 22 minutes, although there was a touch of fortune about the goal. Kuyt provided the cross and Benayoun, who looked to be marginally offside, scored with the ball bouncing in off his knee.
Six minutes later Kuyt escaped Newcastle's defenders and scored with a brave diving header which gave Newcastle keeper Steve Harper no chance.
Lucas headed in the third goal which sent Newcastle to their third defeat under Shearer, whose two other games in charge have ended in draws.
Alonso's involvement ended early when he was carried off on a stretcher after being clattered by Barton, back in the side for the first time since Jan. 28.