Premier League leaders Liverpool keep on grinding and they secured a dramatic late comeback win at Aston Villa on Saturday to remain unbeaten through the opening 11 games of the season.
Sadio Mane was the star of the show as Liverpool trailed 1-0 heading into the 87th minute at Villa Park.
The Senegalese forward whipped in a cross for Andy Robertson to head home an equalizer and in the 92nd minute Mane headed home the winner to spark wild scenes of celebration.
After stretching Liverpool’s unbeaten run in the PL to 28 games, Mane tried to sum up his emotions to the club website.
“I’m struggling to describe how happy we are,” Mane said. “But for sure we are very happy and we deserved to win these three points, which was really important for us… It’s always going to be tough but I think our reaction was perfect. In the first half it wasn’t our best performance but, like we said, we just had to push hard as a team and give everything and try, try again. That’s what we tried to do and at the end we created some chances and we scored two goals. For sure it wasn’t our best performance but we deserved the three points.”
For the third-straight game they’ve come from behind to grab points, as the heroics at Villa followed a comeback 1-1 draw at Man United and a 2-1 win against Tottenham last weekend where they also fell behind.
Robertson, who grabbed the equalizer against Villa from Mane’s cross, told Sky Sports that Liverpool’s resilience doesn’t surprise him and they now have plenty of momentum after a late win.
“We have showed our resilience over the last 18 months and this season we have kept on going,” Robertson said. “Today we knew we had some great chances and there’s nothing better than a last minute winner. Aston Villa are a team that just got promoted and pushed us to the end, we know we need to be at our best every single game.”
Mane was right, Liverpool weren’t at their best but they dug deep and were relentless in the final 30 minutes with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane and Adam Lallana all going close.
Jurgen Klopp celebrated wildly on the sidelines but said he wasn’t really thinking about Liverpool losing their long unbeaten PL record, which dates back to Jan. 3.
“I don’t have time to think about things like this, to be honest. I am not there to feel happy and disappointed and sad and angry or whatever,” Klopp said. “Yes, sometimes I am angry, but not because I plan it. Sometimes I am disappointed, but not because I plan it. I never thought a second about ‘did we lose already?’ or ‘can we win it still?’ It is not like this. We just have to try to score, that’s everything – and that’s what obviously we tried. It’s not that I think now that we have had a couple of comebacks then today they were would be another comeback – how can you think that?”
“But we know it is possible, everybody knows it is possible. We really know it, the boys tried it. I think we got the free-kick with Trent, then somebody in the wall [deflected it with a] header and then that was the corner when we scored. That’s football, you need to have these situations.”
Ahead of their huge clash at Anfield against Man City next Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Liverpool kept their six-point lead atop the table and Mane cannot wait to play against the reigning Premier League champs in a massive game.
“We have big respect for Manchester City,” Mane said. “They are a very good team but we are Liverpool and we are also a very good team. I think it will be a very interesting game and we are looking forward to it.”
The win against Villa will feel very good between now and the game against Man City.
Robertson said it best: “There’s nothing better than a last minute winner.”