Sadio Mane netted a landmark goal as Liverpool moved to the top of the table with a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday.
Fresh off the back of their thrilling 3-2 win over AC Milan in midweek, Jurgen Klopp rung the changes for the visit of the Eagles, with Trent Alexander-Arnold omitted from the match day squad due to illness, while fellow full-back Andy Robertson dropped to the bench.
That meant the Reds would start a Premier League match without either of those two men for the first time since December 2018 and the makeshift defence almost conceded inside just two minutes, with Brazilian stopper Alisson making a clawing save to turn onto his own post.
After a fairly even first half an hour or so, the home side began to dictate proceedings, with Diogo Jota inexplicably squandering a golden chance to give his side the lead, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers man blazing his effort over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
The opener did eventually come just before half-time, however, as Sadio Mane continued his excellent goalscoring run against Palace with a close range finish on the rebound, after Vicente Guaita had initially done well to deny Mo Salah.
That strike marked the ninth successive Premier League game that the Senegal international has scored against the south London side – a top-flight record – and also brought up his 100th goal in all competitions for the Reds.
The visitors continued to make a game of it after the restart, however, and perhaps should have found themselves level through substitute Odsonne Edouard, the former Celtic man failing to replicate last week’s heroics after squandering a guilt-edged chance from close range.
The Frenchman was soon made to pay for that miss as Klopp’s men eventually extended their lead, the ever-reliable Salah lashing in on the volley at the backpost after a good flick on from a towering Virgil Van Dijk.
The win was well and truly wrapped up with a minute to play as Naby Keita fired in a superb effort from the edge of the box – again on the volley – with the victory continuing Liverpool’s unbeaten run.
💯 Reds goals for Mane 👏😍
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 18, 2021
The result was a particularly special one for milestone goalscorer Mane, with the former Southampton man suggesting he was ‘lucky’ to have such a good record against Palace.
“I am lucky to score so many goals against Palace. Most important thing was the three points. Right place, right time. I am lucky. And happy. Thank you to all the fans, club and staff. Without them I am nothing,” Mane told BBC Sport.
“I love to play against Crystal Palace. I am lucky. It would be great to play them every single weekend.
The victory takes the Reds to the top of the Premier League table, with Mane insisting that a title triumph is a possibility for his side this season.
”In my head I am always thinking it is possible. I will keep trying and trying and trying.
“I think people are not wrong saying Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United as well for the title. We will try to be our best and at that level.”
Liverpool are next in action away at Norwich in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, before taking on Brentford next Saturday.