Mane stars as Liverpool dispatch Bournemouth
Liverpool recovered from back-to-back defeats to beat Bournemouth and take another major step towards a first league title in 30 years.
The result lifted Jurgen Klopp’s team 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who face Manchester United on Sunday in one of their two games in hand on the Premier League leaders.
The hosts fell behind in controversial circumstances at Anfield, Callum Wilson slotting home Jefferson Lerma’s low cross after appearing to shove Joe Gomez in the build-up to the goal.
But Liverpool soon hit their stride and Mohamed Salah – making his 100th league appearance for the club – restored parity with a low finish after Sadio Mane dispossessed Jack Simpson deep inside the Cherries’ half.
Mane latched on to Virgil van Dijk’s perfectly weighted through-ball to complete the turnaround, but the hosts needed a brilliant goal-line clearance from James Milner to prevent Ryan Fraser from hauling Bournemouth back on level terms in a nervy second half.
The win means Liverpool could be champions by the time they play Everton in the league on 16 March – if Manchester City lose their next three games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Burnley.
Eddie Howe’s side remain in the relegation zone, level on points with Watford and West Ham but with a worse goal difference than their nearest rivals at the bottom.
Reds back to winning ways – just
Liverpool manager Klopp spoke before the game about “getting back on track immediately” after watching his side slip to consecutive defeats in the league and FA Cup.
They made the worst possible start, however, as Bournemouth capitalised on the Reds’ early nerves to take a shock lead – albeit in controversial fashion.
Wilson finished off a neat move involving Lerma and Philip Billing, but Liverpool felt the goal should have been disallowed for the striker’s push on Gomez. The video assistant referee saw no infringement and the goal was given.
Things could have got worse for the home side when Nathan Ake’s powerful header was unconvincingly shovelled on to the top of the crossbar by stand-in goalkeeper Adrian, but Liverpool continued to create chances and deservedly restored parity through Salah’s low finish – his 70th league goal for the club.
Bournemouth fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Mane scored with a delightful dink over Aaron Ramsdale 12 minutes before half-time, but Liverpool failed to carry that momentum into the second half.
Chances were few and far between until Ryan Fraser spotted Adrian off his line, with the retreating Milner producing an outstanding clearance to keep Liverpool’s in front.
Mane almost added gloss to the scoreline with a 25-yard strike that cannoned back off the bar, but Liverpool held on to register a record 22nd consecutive home win in a Premier League season.
Individual errors cost Bournemouth
Having taken a deserved early lead, Bournemouth boss Howe will be bitterly disappointed with the manner of Liverpool’s two first-half goals.
Simpson, who replaced the injured Steve Cook after 19 minutes, was easily dispossessed by Mane in the build-up to Salah’s equaliser, before another sloppy pass allowed Van Dijk to tee up the Senegal forward for Liverpool’s second.
There were positives for Bournemouth, who caused Liverpool problems and were only denied a share of the spoils by Milner’s superb clearance from Fraser’s looping effort.
Ake spurned an opportunity to equalise in the 90th minute when he opted to pass to the offside Wilson with only Adrian to beat.
However, Howe’s side will need to cut out individual mistakes if they are to prolong their five-year stay in the Premier League.
With games against Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester coming up, Bournemouth will be desperate to claim maximum points at home to Crystal Palace in their next league match.
Man of the match – Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Courtesy- BBC Online