Salah and Mane keep Liverpool calm... until Wednesday at least

Mohamed Salah Liverpool
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The African duo helped the Reds chalk off another vital victory in the quest for a title and a big test against Atletico Madrid now looms

Right, can everybody calm down now? Just for a few days at least?

Liverpool’s bad week ended with in familiar fashion. Normal service was resumed at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp’s side moved to within three wins of the Premier League title with a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Bournemouth.

Records are nothing new for this team, and they reached another milestone here. This was their 22nd successive home league victory. No other side has achieved such a feat in top-flight history.

After three defeats in four matches, and one or two questions asked of Klopp and his players, this was exactly what the league leaders needed. A mood lifter, you could call it. Reports of their demise, it seems, were greatly exaggerated. 

But you knew that already, surely?

Make no mistake; you’d be a fool to write off Liverpool, no matter how sluggish they have looked in recent games. When a team is able to call upon such quality, its ‘wobbles’ tend to be short ones.

They called upon their stars here. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, as they had been in the last home win, were both on the scoresheet. That’s 38 goals between the Reds’ African duo, who in the space of eight first-half minutes were able to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.

Salah’s equaliser, tucked neatly inside Aaron Ramsdale’s near post, came at exactly the right time. Liverpool had been stunned by Callum Wilson’s ninth-minute opener – though quite how referee Paul Tierney, or VAR official Michael Oliver, failed to spot Wilson’s shove on Joe Gomez in the build-up is anyone’s guess. It was hardly subtle. 

Mohamed Salah Sadio Mane Roberto Firmino Liverpool 2019-20

Anfield, just for a second, fell silent, but Liverpool were not behind for long. Sixteen minutes later Jack Simpson, the Bournemouth substitute, dawdled in possession and was robbed by Mane. He fed Salah, and the rest of the story is a familiar one.

It was the Egyptian’s 20th goal of the campaign, and means he is the first Liverpool player since Michael Owen, 17 years ago, to achieve that tally in three successive seasons. In 100 league games for the Reds, Salah has scored 70 times, and he has now moved ahead of Luis Suarez as the club’s leading Premier League overseas goalscorer. He’s some player.

So too is Mane, of course, and soon after Salah’s moment came the Senegal star’s. 

Virgil van Dijk made it, stepping in to win possession on halfway before releasing Mane with a sublime early pass. Mane’s finish was clinical; he now has 18 for the campaign and will surely, like Salah and Owen, pass the 20 mark for the third year running too. 

Liverpool had looked set to go and dominate from 2-1, but there is a hint of tension around Anfield at present. Understandable perhaps, given the circumstances and the recent injury to first-choice goalkeeper Alisson, but it will annoy Klopp that his team were unable to kill the game off.

Kopites’ nerves were shredded as Bournemouth stayed in the game, and had it not been for a dramatic goal-line clearance from James Milner, which denied Ryan Fraser, then Eddie Howe’s side may well have left with a point, leaving Klopp to answer further questions. Wilson - close to the end - could have equallised had he not trod on the ball from close range.

As it was, the final whistle brought relief. Klopp brought out the fist-pumps for the Kop, and for the Main Stand. He may have insisted he was unconcerned by the past couple of weeks, but his behaviour here said differently. He knew how important it was to get back on track.

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And then there were three. Three games from glory. First, though, a Champions League assignment here against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.

Liverpool will need their fans for that one, for sure.

They’ll also, as they did here, need their star men to make the decisive contributions.