Jurgen Klopp was a happy man on Saturday night to get out of Anfield with all three points against an improved Sheffield United, as Liverpool were made to work hard for their win.
A second-half header from Diogo Jota secured victory for the Reds, overcoming a resolute performance from the visitors to take them level on points with Everton at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool suffered an early setback, however, when Fabinho fouled Oliver McBurnie for a penalty in the 13th minute. Referee Mike Dean originally adjudged the foul to have occurred outside the box, but video assistant referee Andre Marriner ruled that it happened on the line and thus in the penalty area. Sander Berge converted the spot kick.
The hosts struggled to get a foothold in the game, but Roberto Firmino tapped home the equaliser in the 41st minute after Sadio Mané’s shot was parried into the six yard box by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Liverpool looked far more comfortable after the interval as they sought to take the lead against the struggling Blades. Mo Salah thought he had done just that after scoring a stunning goal on the hour mark, but a VAR check showed it was marginally offside.
Luckily for Liverpool they did go ahead just a few minutes later, as Jota met Mané’s cross in the air to make it 2-1. It was the first time Jota had started a match alongside Mané, Salah and Firmino, scoring his second goal for the club since leaving Wolves.
Egyptian winger Salah was once again denied a goal, this time by the post with ten minutes remaining. After some excellent work to get into the box, his shot beat Ramsdale but not the woodwork.
“I’m not surprised at all, you always have to work hard against Sheffield United. It’s hard to take for Chris Wilder,” a commiserating Klopp told BBC Sport.
Another battling performance ✊ pic.twitter.com/7UMucaSQxz
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 24, 2020
“The penalty was not even a foul. During a season there are so many different periods, we have had an injustice and we have had to go again. I love these games, as you earn all of the rest. You earn the easier games when it all goes your way on nights like this.
“We struggled with McBurnie in the first half but we changed our positioning and won the second balls. We were dominating at 2-1 and had some really good football but then they came back.
“They never give up, I respect that so much. They go and go and go. Chris is doing a wonderful job.”
The South Yorkshire outfit also impressed the Liverpool players, with Jordan Henderson lavishing praise on the opposition.
“It was hard as expected, they are a good side who work really hard. We knew it would be difficult and we are delighted to get the points,” the Liverpool captain told Sky Sports.
“McBurnie was very good in the air so it was hard for the lads at the back but they coped and worked it out better in the second half. We should have killed the game off with another goal or two.”
Wilder was naturally disappointed with the result, but praised his team for their “terrific” attitude.
“We could have been given another penalty but it wasn’t. It was more like us, we we more aggressive and competitive, we needed to get back to that,” he told Sky Sports.
Liverpool extend their unbeaten run at Anfield to 62 league games, winning 28 of their last 29. They now sit in second place on 13 points, behind Everton on goal difference, albeit Liverpool have an extra game played. United, on the other hand, are now winless in nine league matches and remain 19th in the table.