Liverpool took another step towards claiming their first title in three decades with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Premier League strugglers, Norwich City.
With the two sides separated by a 55 point chasm, it was unsurprising to see Liverpool dominate possession and have the majority of chances on a windy evening in East Anglia, with both sides battling against the effects of Storm Dennis.
However, despite the league leaders’ domination of proceedings, they were made to work hard for their 25th win of the Premier League season.
Substitute Sadio Mane expertly took down a raking pass in the 78th minute from Player of the Year favourite, Jordan Henderson. The Senegalese – returning from a muscle injury picked up in the 2-1 win over Wolves – turned and finished first time past Tim Krul to score his 100th goal in English football, his 75th in a Liverpool shirt.
Norwich did create a handful of decent chances, including Alex Tettey crashing a strike off the post, though it was Jurgen Klopp’s relentless league leaders who claimed all three points to move 25 points clear of Man City.
Speaking after the game, the German discussed the difficulties that his side faced at Carrow Road, and expressed his surprise at their ever-expanding advantage at the top of the division.
“It was a difficult game for different reasons,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “The wind, the organisation of the opponent and the way we played first half made it tricky for us.
“The distance between the line was too big, too early with the long ball, no second player around to collect the second ball. It was not exactly like we wanted to do. The counter-press was not there because we didn’t push up enough. We still had nice situations, good set-pieces but not really much more.
“Fabinho coming on was very important for the organisation. Sadio was fresh and he helped us to win the game, which was outstanding. I have to watch the goal back but I’m pretty sure it was a fantastic finish.
“I could tell in all the players faces that they weren’t nervous, they were enjoying it, and if one team was going to score it was going to be us. We protected against the counter-attack well too. It’s really all about these wonderful football players.
“The gap is so insane, I don’t really understand it. I’m not smart enough. I’ve not had that before. It’s outstanding, it’s so difficult. I go back into the changing room and we chat about the things and then I’m like ‘oh, but congratulations’. We won the game, another three points.”
Liverpool now need just five league wins in order to claim their first title since 1990, though the European champion’s next test is a Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night in the Wanda Metropolitano, the scene of their triumph over Spurs in last season’s final.