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Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012

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Just for kicks: Liverpool's Daniel Agger (second from right) and Newcastle's Demba Ba vie for the ball on Friday at Anfield. Reds rallied for a 3-1 victory. AP PHOTO

Bellamy powers rally in win over Newcastle


LIVERPOOL, England — Craig Bellamy scored twice for Liverpool and substitute Steven Gerrard netted another to cap a 3-1 comeback victory over Newcastle in the Premier League on Friday.

Newcastle had taken the lead with a lucky goal in the 25th, as Ryan Taylor's cross was headed toward goal by Yohan Cabaye and then deflected off Liverpool defender Daniel Agger to wrongfoot goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

But Bellamy equalized five minutes later with a low shot into the bottom left corner after a poor clearance fell right at his feet, and added the second with a free kick in the 67th.

"It's not the first time we've praised him and it certainly won't be the last," Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said of Bellamy, who left the game late to have four stitches in an eye wound after a clash with Fabricio Coloccini. "We are delighted for him. We just hope his cut eye isn't too bad. As he came off I just said congratulations to him."

Gerrard came on as a substitute for his second appearance after a two-month injury layoff and scored the third after running onto a ball from Jordan Henderson and slotting it underneath goalkeeper Tim Krul from a tight angle.

"It's good to be back. I've had a terrible year with a lot of injuries but I just want to look forward," Gerrard said. "I'm delighted to be back with the lads today, to get on the scoresheet and get three points was a perfect return."

The talk before the game was mostly about striker Andy Carroll, who was bought by Liverpool from Newcastle for a club-record £35 million in the last January transfer window. But while Carroll again struggled to find his scoring form, it was another former Newcastle player in Bellamy who helped spark the comeback.

It was the first time Liverpool scored three goals in a match since an Aug. 27 win over Bolton, and the victory lifted the team temporarily above Arsenal into fifth place with 34 points ahead of the rest of the weekend's games. Newcastle remained in seventh place, on 30 points.

Henry closes in on return


LONDON — Three weeks after being immortalized in a bronze statue outside Arsenal's stadium, Thierry Henry is on the verge of sealing an emotional return to the Premier League club that made him a global superstar.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Friday that the former France captain will sign for the team in a two-month loan deal once an insurance agreement is reached with the New York Red Bulls, Henry's club in Major League Soccer.

Wenger is turning to Henry, who scored a club-record 226 goals in eight years at Arsenal between 1999-2007, to fill the gap in his strikeforce left by the impending departure of Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to the African Cup of Nations next month.

"To cover for two months is ideal," Wenger said. "He has the experience and the quality. He knows the club and can help the players on and off the pitch."

On Dec. 9, Henry was moved to tears when Arsenal unveiled statues of himself, former captain Tony Adams and ex-manager Herbert Chapman in celebration of the club's 125th-year anniversary.

Henry's legacy could be enhanced further if he can inspire Wenger's side in a crucial period of matches before he returns to the United States in March.

The Frenchman could feature in seven Premier League games, including a home match against Manchester United on Jan. 22, and in the first leg of the Gunners' Champions League last-16 match against AC Milan.

"I know it can only be positive," said Wenger, who converted Henry from a skinny winger to a muscly striker after signing him from Italian team Juventus in 1999.

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