Liverpool’s unstoppable charge towards their first top-flight title in 30 years continued by edging a narrow victory over bottom-of-the-table Norwich.
Sadio Mane came off the bench to score the winner with 12 minutes remaining, expertly taking down skipper Jordan Henderson’s raking pass and smashing in at the near post.
It means Jurgen Klopp’s side need just five more wins from their remaining 12 games to guarantee their first Premier League title, having dropped just two points all campaign.
Chances were at a premium in a blustery first half, but Liverpool ramped up the pressure in the second period – Canaries goalkeeper Tim Krul making a stunning double save to deny Mohamed Salah’s low shot and Naby Keita’s close-range follow-up.
Having been pegged back for a long period, Norwich could have scored on the counter-attack as Alex Tettey’s strike from an angle caught Alisson by surprise at his near post but the effort rattled the foot of the upright.
But Senegal international Mane – who missed the last two games through a hamstring injury – proved to be the difference having entered the action on the hour mark.
Reds just keep on winning
It looked for a while that it may be a frustrating day for Liverpool at Carrow Road, misplacing a number of passes in the final third and being restricted to long-range efforts.
Keita’s drive was tipped over the crossbar by Krul, while efforts from Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were comfortable for the Dutch goalkeeper to deal with.
When the marauding Trent Alexander-Arnold dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box after just 13 seconds, a routine win looked to be on the cards, but the Reds had to battle hard once more to go a mammoth 25 points clear of champions Manchester City.
To say Liverpool have dominated the division is an understatement – they have annihilated all in front of them and the numbers make staggering reading:
- Liverpool are now unbeaten in 43 league games, closing in on Arsenal’s all-time record of 49.
- They have collected a remarkable 102 points from their last 105 available.
- The Reds have picked up 35 wins from their last 36 games – a 1-1 draw at Manchester United in October the only blemish.
- They have won 17 games in a row – one shy of Manchester City’s record – and kept 10 clean sheets from their last 11 games.
The result also means 76 points after 26 games is the best record at this juncture in the history of Europe’s top five leagues – something even the continent’s great sides including La Liga’s Barcelona, Juventus of Serie A, Bundesliga’s Bayern Munich and Ligue 1’s Paris St-Germain were unable to achieve.
The defending European champions go into Tuesday’s last-16 first-leg tie at Atletico Madrid in flawless form and Klopp’s side will take some stopping from reaching their third consecutive final, as they aim for a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble.
So near yet so far for Norwich
Daniel Farke’s side remain anchored to the foot of the table, seven points from safety and are staring at an immediate return to the Championship.
They display some attractive football at times, playing out from the back which almost proved costly on a couple of occasions, but failing to hold out means they have conceded a joint league-high 48 goals.
Had they taken their chances, they would have claimed a spectacular victory against all the odds, with Lukas Rupp left ruing what might have been.
The German midfielder broke the offside trap in the first half and when faced one-on-one with Alisson, inexplicably decided to square the ball towards Teemu Pukki instead of shooting but the Brazilian goalkeeper managed to claw the pass away.
The lively Todd Cantwell struck the side-netting, while Tettey’s low, drilled strike hit the upright.
Ton up for Mane – the stats
- Liverpool have opened the scoring in each of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Norwich City – no side has ever scored the opening goal in more consecutive games versus another in the competition’s history (Chelsea also 14 v Portsmouth).
- Norwich have only won one of their last 13 Premier League games (D5 L7) and have failed to score in back-to-back league matches for the first time since November 2019.
- Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in 10 of their last 11 Premier League matches, this after having only kept one shutout in the previous 11 such games before this.
- Sadio Mane scored the 100th goal of his English club career in all competitions, scoring 25 for Southampton and 75 for Liverpool.
- Mane’s goal was his 57th in the Premier League for Liverpool, but the first coming as a substitute.
- Jordan Henderson has assisted five Premier League goals this season; only in 2014-15 (nine) and 2013-14 (seven) has he provided more in a single league season in his professional career.
- Both of Liverpool’s last two Premier League games have been goalless at half-time; only two of their first 24 such matches of the season had been 0-0 at the break before this.
- Norwich failed to attempt a single shot in the first half of a league game for the first time under Daniel Farke, and the first time in any league match overall since April 2014 v Manchester United.
Norwich travel to Wolves next Sunday in the Premier League (kick-off 14:00 GMT), while Liverpool are in European action on Tuesday, followed by a Premier League game at Anfield against West Ham next Monday (20:00).
Article courtesy of BBC Sport