Salah leads Liverpool to crucial win against Chelsea (video)

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  • Liverpool go top of the table
  • Mane, Salah both score
  • Hazard hits post, misses key chances

Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday as Jurgen Klopp‘s took another huge stride towards winning their first-ever Premier League title.

In an even game, Sadio Mane put Liverpool ahead in the second half and moments later Mohamed Salah scored a Goal of the Season contender from distance to seal the win. Eden Hazard missed two glorious chances after that, but Liverpool held on for victory.

With the win Liverpool move two points clear at the top of the table on 85 points, although they have played a game more than second-place Man City. Chelsea remain on 66 points in fourth place, but their hopes of finishing in the top four took a hit.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool started brightly and Mane whipped in a cross which found Salah at the back post, but his shot on goal was saved by Kepa.

Hazard was caught by both Fabinho and Joel Matip early on and forced Alisson into a low save, while Naby Keita pushed an effort towards danger but Kepa again saved comfortably.

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Jordan Henderson‘s shot deflected off David Luiz and looped over as Liverpool pushed hard for an opener in the first half. Willian broke free on the counter and smashed a shot just wide as the game opened up at the end of the half.

Mane then curled a shot wide after Salah surged into the box, while Chelsea lost key defender Antonio Rudiger through injury as the German international couldn’t recover from an early knock.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool started the second half well and went ahead after Jordan Henderson dinked a cross to the back post which Mane nodded home. Anfield went wild as the home side were worthy of their 1-0 lead.

There was just two minutes and 22 seconds to wait for the next goal, and Salah scored a simply amazing goal. The Egyptian winger cut in from the right and smashed an unstoppable effort into the far top corner which sparked pandemonium at Anfield.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Roberto Firmino then flashed a shot wide and Hazard then had two glorious chances to pull a goal back for Chelsea. The Belgian forward was clean through on goal and beat Alisson, but his shot hit the post, and moments later Alisson denied his scuffed effort and then Cesar Azpilicueta broke free but his cutback couldn’t find a host teammates in the box.

Liverpool settled themselves down late in the game to hold on for the win, as Klopp’s men moved back to the top of the table and handled their biggest remaining test comfortably.

Klopp details Liverpool adjustments in “brilliant” win over Southampton

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Jurgen Klopp, lively as ever, praised his side after a 3-1 come-from-behind win over Southampton at St. Mary’s.

“It was brilliant, I have to say, and I told the boys they were mentality monsters, it’s unbelievable,” Klopp said immediately after the victory.

The German boss is also as transparent as anyone in the league, and he detailed in his post-match interview what sparked the turnaround after conceding just nine minutes in.

“Our formation was not good for protection,” Klopp said. “The center-halves were too deep so Fabinho had to cover too much space, so every ball they cleared in the box was nearly a counter-attack, that makes no sense, so we had to adjust that.”

[ RECAP, HIGHLIGHTS: Liverpool comes back to beat Southampton ]

Liverpool struggled to deal with the Southampton counter-attack throughout the first half, with Long’s opener coming on a breakaway. Long also should have scored a second before 20 minutes time, but whiffed on collecting a cross despite nobody marking him right in front of net.

“They [Southampton] scored the [opening] goal – a nice goal…not world class defending I would say, but a nice goal,” Klopp said with a wry smile. “But we stayed really calm, stayed in the situation, stayed in the game, and yeah…worked for the moment, not wait for it, but work for it, that’s what the boys did.”

Despite the struggles in the first half, Naby Keita equalized for Liverpool with a header for his first Premier League goal, and after halftime the adjustments were effective. Liverpool began to build into the ascendancy and forced Southampton deeper and deeper into its own half.

“The game calmed down [in the second half] and then we could decide it with two outstanding goals, both were outstanding. [The first one was a f]antastic counter-attack, Mo, that finish, everyone was probably waiting for the pass to Bobby but I saw he couldn’t pass, he couldn’t, it was not a good angle, so go go go and then finish it off…world class. And then third goal Bobby chased that ball, stays calm, sees Hendo [Jordan Henderson], fantastic so really really happy about the performance and the game because we knew it was difficult for us.”

Before wrapping up his interview, Klopp made sure people know that the Reds have their own identity separate from Manchester City, their main rivals for the Premier League title this season. While Pep Guardiola‘s group displays a free-flowing, attacking side that controls possession and chokes the life out of an opponent, Liverpool has shown a different style – resiliency. The Reds lead the Premier League with 16 points gained from losing positions this season.

“People want us to play like City, we are not able to do that, why should we do it? We have our way to play football, it’s a nice way and a really good way, we have 82 points or so, so that’s massive in this crazy league with these unbelievably strong opponents.”

With those 82 points, Liverpool returns to the Premier League lead by two over Manchester City. Hard to argue with that.

Salah saves Liverpool with late goal to seal comeback over Southampton (video)

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Liverpool cannot afford a slip, needing perfection down the stretch to keep pace with Manchester City and keep the title hopes alive.

The Reds were far from perfect on Friday at St. Mary’s, battered in midfield and pressed by a Jurgen Klopp clone on the opposing touchline. Ultimately, despite an imperfect performance, they earned a perfect result thanks to Mohamed Salah‘s 80th minute goal that sent Liverpool on its way to a 3-1 victory over Southampton despite falling behind inside the opening 10 minutes.

Liverpool fought back the entire match, as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s press baffled the likes of Naby Keita and Fabinho. The Reds were exposed at times, but by halftime, they seemed to have sorted things out, and by the hour mark, they were in full control, having made the appropriate substitutions to expose the talent gap.

Southampton went in front just nine minutes in as Shane Long found himself wide open in front of net. A ball in from deep delivered by Ryan Bertrand found Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who managed to get himself in front of Virgil Van Dijk and flick the ball with his head. It fell perfectly behind him to Long who was waiting, and with Andrew Robertson overplaying the ball, Long was all alone to punch in the finish.

Long nearly had a second in the 18th minute, and probably should have scored, but he somehow whiffed on a cross from the left. Had he connected, he would have been all along in front of goal with just Alisson to beat yet again.

Liverpool drew level on 36 minutes as Southampton cleared two previous attempts, but on the third Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s ball from near the corner flag found Naby Keita at the back post, and he headed Liverpool back level. There was a hint of offside early in the buildup as Mohamed Salah made a run, but it was a

After the break, the Reds maintained possessional control but Southampton continued to prove dangerous on the break. Slowly as the half wore on, the visitors build themselves into the ascendency. Liverpool had a penalty shout as Keita threw himself to ground under contact by Maya Yoshida just before the hour mark, and while the defender made slight contact, the referee let play continue.

By the 67th minute, it was all Liverpool on the attack. Roberto Firimino nearly scored a Goal of the Season candidate, flicking the ball over his defender to put himself clean through, but Yoshida was on hand to make an enormous block. It took 15 more minutes, but eventually Liverpool found the all-important moment.

On the break off a Southampton corner, Salah found himself one-on-one across midfield with the lone Southampton defender back in Bertrand. Redmond also managed to get back, but the Egyptian split the two and unleashed a right-footed effort from the top of the box, putting it past Angus Gunn who appeared somewhat surprised to see Salah shoot rather than pass Firmino to his left.

The goal sent Liverpool through, and they secured the three points on yet another break as a long ball from van Dijk deep in Liverpool’s half found a breaking Firmino down the right, and the Brazilian sensed a teammate streaking down the middle. His cross found Jordan Henderson flying down the center unmarked for an easy finish to put Liverpool 3-1 up.

The win sent Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League table by two points, and while Manchester City still holds the advantage thanks to its game in hand, the pressure is back on Pep Guardiola to take care of business. Had Liverpool dropped points, the title race would have swung heavily in City’s favor owning a lead plus the game in hand.

Three things learned: Saints v. Liverpool (video)

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SOUTHAMPTON — It wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty as Liverpool surged to a late 3-1 win at Southampton to go back to the top of the Premier League.

[ MORE: “World class” Liverpool led by Salah

Saints took a shock lead through Shane Long, but an equalizer from Naby Keita was followed by late goals from Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson to send Liverpool two points clear of Manchester City with the latter having a game in hand. The title race will go down to the wire.

Here’s what we learned from a gripping clash at St Mary’s, as the win was far from routine for Liverpool.


SALAH KEEPS TITLE BID ON TRACK

For most of the evening, Mohamed Salah’s performance summed up Liverpool’s display. He huffed and puffed, but there just wasn’t an end product. Until he won the game. 10 minutes from time Salah burst free after Saints had a corner, ran almost 50 yards with the ball and clipped home a delightful finish for his first goal in nine games for Liverpool. He loves playing against Southampton, and has now scored in all four of his PL appearances against Saints with five goals in total.

His stunning goal showcased the Salah of last season, as he tore off his shirt in delight and Liverpool’s title bid was back on track after a tense 80 minutes where Southampton threatened to hold them to a draw. Salah has now scored 50 goals in 69 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, and that is the fewest number of games of any player in club history to reach half a century. Salah is back delivering moments of top quality, and his latest sent Liverpool back to the top of the league.


KEITA CAN DELIVER MIDFIELD DYNAMISM

With stalwarts James Milner and Jordan Henderson left on the bench, there was plenty of pressure on the shoulders of Fabinho and especially Naby Keita. In his 28th appearance for Liverpool, Keita popped up with a massive goal towards the end of the first half which swung the game in their favor. He didn’t play particularly well, but he made a difference, and with Klopp criticized for his ultra-defensive lineups in central midfield in recent months, this was a chance for Keita to show he has a role in this team.

The Guinean midfielder didn’t see a lot of the ball early on, with Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum caught in possession and Keita looking a little lost tucked in on the left side of midfield. But what you could see was that his runs into the box were timed well, and that is exactly what happened on the goal. He arrived to head home Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s marvellous cross and that kind of dynamism and end product is why Liverpool paid $70 million for him last season. In the second half he ran into the box and was clipped by Maya Yoshida and was lucky not to win his team a penalty kick. We haven’t seen those kind of moments anywhere enough from Keita in his debut campaign in England, and although he struggled overall, there is hope he can offer Liverpool a different midfield dynamic late in the season.


SAINTS TO MARCH ON

Shane Long gave Southampton a shock lead, but in truth, it was what they deserved. They rattled Liverpool’s cages often, and particularly early on, with Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s famed high-pressing in full flow on several occasions as Saints won the ball back high up the pitch. Long should have converted a second early on, and even though Saints failed to grab anything from the game they proved they have made significant progress in Hasenhuttl’s 17 games in charge. Had Danny Ings been able to play (his loan from Liverpool meant he was ineligible) it could have been a different story. They ran out of steam and kept giving the ball back to Liverpool, but with a more fluid attack, they could have caused even greater problems.

There is a plan to their play, an identity and Southampton’s young squad can challenge the big boys again. For so long Saints have upset the odds with four-straight top eight finishes before a bad season last season where they just avoided relegation. Saints are back on track and the turnaround Hasenhuttl has made with only the struggling players he inherited and no money spent deserves huge praise. Against the teams outside of the top six they will fare well, but Liverpool were just too good late on. There is no shame in that for Saints, who went toe-to-toe with an exceptional Liverpool team until Salah’s moment of magic.

Watch Live: Southampton v. Liverpool

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Southampton host Liverpool on Friday at St Mary’s (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), as Jurgen Klopp‘s men have the chance to go back to the top of the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Klopp knows that a resurgent Saints will be tough to break down, as new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (he and Klopp completed their coaching badges together in Germany) has led Saints to seven victories in his 16 games in charge, but Liverpool are the heavy favorites to move two points clear in the title race with Man City in FA Cup semifinal action this weekend.

Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren are all returning to their former club, and they can expect a hostile atmosphere down on the South Coast given all of the transfer deals between these two teams in recent years.

In team news Saints have had to leave Danny Ings out as he is on loan from Liverpool this season before he makes his move permanent in the summer. Shane Long comes in for him, while Jannik Vestergaard returns to the lineup.

Liverpool make two changes as Naby Keita and Fabinho come in to the midfield.


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