Benitez returned to anfield and managed to save face considering he was with a team facing relegation battle.
Liverpool’s preparations were hindered by the news that Mamadou Sakho would not be considered for selection while Uefa conducts an investigation into a possible doping violation. Sakho subsequently took a watching brief as Kolo Toure took his place in one of five changes.
But there was no sign of distraction and Liverpool led in the second minute when Alberto Moreno’s long free-kick was chested down by Sturridge. He turned sharply in the area and arrowed a shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Sturridge, who may not have played had Divock Origi not injured his ankle against Everton, was full of confidence and cleared the crossbar with a long-range effort.
Newcastle were chasing shadows and it was no surprise when Lallana made it 2-0, the England international bending a sublime 20-yard left-foot effort past Karl Darlow.
The visitors created little, but Cisse should have done better when he headed Andros Townsend’s cross wide of the right post.
Newcastle were back in it shortly after the break, though, when Vurnon Anita’s deep right-wing cross was headed in by Cisse with Mignolet caught in no man’s land.
Shortly after, Sturridge had penalty claims for a trip from Cheikh Tiote turned down and a Newcastle counter almost saw Moussa Sissoko pass up the chance to shoot in a promising position.
Liverpool thought they had regained the two-goal cushion when Roberto Firmino tapped in after Sturridge’s header was saved, but the Brazil international was adjudged to be offside.
And Anfield was left stunned in the 66th minute. Townsend’s cross was not dealt with and the on-rushing Colback saw his low strike take a huge deflection beyond Mignolet.
Now in the ascendancy, Benitez threw on Aleksandar Mitrovic in search of a winner and Liverpool’s defending became increasingly frantic.
The visitors had to remain on guard, though, and Anita made a crucial block from Philippe Coutinho’s goalbound effort.
It remained 2-2, though, and although Newcastle’s winless league run against Liverpool at Anfield stretched to 21 matches a point may prove crucial in their battle against the drop.