A goalkeeping howler from Dean Henderson gifted Liverpool a 16th straight Premier League victory as they saw off Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
The Premier League leaders looked out of ideas in the face of a thorough examination from the newly-promoted Blades but were handed three points when on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Henderson allowed Georginio Wijnaldum's volley to squirm across his goal line on 70 minutes.
Wijnaldum's shot was Liverpool's first attempt on target in the game and dealt a particularly cruel blow to Chris Wilder's valiant side, who drop to 12th in the table after letting a famous point slip through their fingers.
But Liverpool escaped with their winning run intact as a seventh victory from seven games this season briefly opened up an eight-point gap over Manchester City, who later won 3-1 at Everton, to further underline the Reds' title credentials.
Sheffield United: Henderson (5), Basham (7), Egan (7), O’Connell (7), Baldock (7), Lundstram (7), Norwood (7), Fleck (7), Stevens (7), McBurnie (7), Robinson (6).
Subs: Mousset (6), Clarke (5)
Liverpool: Adrian (7), Alexander-Arnold (6), Matip (7), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (7), Fabinho (6), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (7), Salah (6), Firmino (6), Mane (6).
Subs: Origi (5), Milner (n/a), Oxlade-Chamberlain (n/a)
Man of the Match: Virgil van Dijk.
How Liverpool's record run rumbled on
Liverpool arrived at Bramall Lane with 15 successive league wins under their belt but Sheffield United showed complete disregard for that record, setting the tone from the first whistle with a resolute defensive display.
But it was by no means a backs-to-the-wall job from the Blades, Oliver McBurnie's fourth-minute drive into the final third and a rasping shot into the arms of Adrian handing Liverpool an early reminder of the threat the hosts posed on the counter.
As Liverpool tentatively built attacks, Sheffield United's direct approach saw them continue to create the better chances as an incisive Oliver Norwood through pass released Callum Robinson in behind, but he fired wide on 21 minutes.
Liverpool finally found their feet in attack on 34 minutes when Virgil van Dijk's brilliant long ball put Sadio Mane through on goal, but, with Henderson bearing down on the Senegal international, he uncharacteristically fired over.
Mane was then at fault for not converting Liverpool's best chance of the half moments before the interval as he slammed a shot against the base of the post after Roberto Firmino's disguised pass played him through on goal at the end of a counter-attack.
All of Liverpool's seven attempts in the first half failed to find the target and the trend of wasting and conceding chances continued after the break.
Blades captain Norwood's dipping volley drew a fingertip save from Adrian on 65 minutes before a last-gasp block from Andrew Robertson saw John Fleck denied at the end of a dangerous counter-attack.
But all of Sheffield United's hard work was undone in an instant when Henderson allowed Wijnaldum's volley to slip through his legs and into his own net and, although he kept the Blades in the game with a fine save to prevent Salah slotting Liverpool's second, the damage was done.
56 - Bramall Lane has become the 56th different venue Liverpool have won at in the @premierleague, at least four more than any other club in the competition (Man Utd & Spurs 52); the Reds have only failed to win at the City Ground and Bloomfield Road. Collection. pic.twitter.com/IgqTbllRx4— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 28, 2019
Henderson's howler in pictures
What the managers said...
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: "If he [Henderson] wants to be a professional footballer, these things are going to happen. But if he wants to play for the top teams, if he wants to play for England, then he needs to do better, he needs to concentrate more. It's a disappointing day for him. I am not going to put my arms around him, simply he needs to do better."
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "We had our moments and we started well but then lost the rhythm. It was really difficult, we didn't accelerate in the right moments. Our passes had not the right speed. All respect to Sheffield United, they did really well over 95 minutes. They have a proper basis to be a really uncomfortable opponent. If it had been a draw, I would say that is what Sheffield deserved and we deserved. I don't think we deserved to lose. We got three points and we are pretty happy."
Liverpool's relentless run in stats
- Liverpool have won their first seven games of a league season for only the second time, after 1990-91.
- Georginio Wijnaldum's goal on 70 minutes was Liverpool's first shot on target of the game, the longest the Reds have had to wait for a shot on target in the Premier League since December 6th 2015, courtesy of Dejan Lovren's effort against Newcastle on 89 minutes.
- Liverpool have now won each of their last 16 Premier League games, their best-ever top-flight winning streak and one bettered only by Manchester City in the Premier League (18 between August and December 2017).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 24 Premier League games. Only between May 1987 and March 1988 have they had a longer unbeaten run in top-flight history (31 games).
Sheffield United travel to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm. Liverpool host Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League on Wednesday at 8pm before welcoming Leicester to Anfield on Saturday at 3pm.