Liverpool took another stride towards the Premier League title as they overcame Norwich 1-0 at a blustery Carrow Road thanks to Sadio Mane's second-half strike.
With Storm Dennis hitting East Anglia ahead of kick-off, the adverse weather conditions made the task of breaking down a gutsy Norwich team that bit more difficult for the league leaders.
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Lukas Rupp spurned a glorious first-half chance and Alexander Tettey hit the post after the break, but Liverpool, as they have done all season, found a way as substitute Mane marked his return from injury with the winner 12 minutes from time.
The victory extends Liverpool's winning streak in the Premier League to 17 games, an incredible run that has moved them to within five more victories of a first league title in 30 years.
Norwich: Krul (7), Aarons (7), Zimmermann (6), Hanley (6), Byram (5), Tettey (7), McLean (6), Rupp (6), Duda (6), Cantwell (7), Pukki (6).
Subs: Lewis (6), Buendia (n/a), Drmic (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (6), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (6), Keita (6), Salah (7), Firmino (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6).
Subs: Fabinho (6), Mane (8), Milner (n/a).
Man of the Match: Sadio Mane.
How Liverpool found a way again
Wet and windy conditions proved a difficult obstacle for both sides to overcome, though Liverpool settled first, registering early chances on the Norwich goal.
The Canaries adopted similar tactics to the ones that guided them to September's stunning victory over Manchester City, maintaining a compact defensive unit while being eager to break in numbers on the counter.
- Daniel Farke named an unchanged team from Norwich’s goalless draw at Newcastle.
- Naby Keita replaced Fabinho in Liverpool’s only change from the win over Southampton.
It nearly paid dividends on 36 minutes as a ball over the top released Rupp through on the Liverpool goal, but instead of shooting the midfielder squared for Teemu Pukki, and his underhit pass was brilliantly hooked away by Alisson's telescopic outstretched arm.
Frustration began to creep into Liverpool's game as the first period drew to a close, but they re-emerged re-energised, with Naby Keita forcing a fingertip save from Tim Krul with a rasping drive on 57 minutes.
From the resulting corner, Virgil van Dijk sent a free header straight into the arms of Krul, but the Dutch 'keeper would go on to outdo both of those saves with a stunning double stop as Mohamed Salah's shot on the swivel and Keita's attempted rebound were thwarted in quick succession.
Jurgen Klopp turned to his substitutes to unlock the Norwich defence as Mane and Fabinho entered the fray, but the closest Liverpool came to the opening goal in the immediate aftermath was when Norwich defender Max Aarons diverted Andrew Robertson's drilled cross agonisingly wide of his own upright.
Liverpool saw their 42-game unbeaten run in the league flash before their eyes on 73 minutes when Alisson was almost beaten at his near post by Tettey's unexpected drive, but the woodwork came to the visitors rescue.
And they took full advantage of their reprieve as Mane brought Jordan Henderson's long ball under control in the area and lashed a left-footed drive home at Krul's near post. The goal underwent the briefest of VAR reviews but contact between Mane and Zimmermann was deemed legal, sparking rapturous scenes among the Liverpool supporters.
Stats: Liverpool refuse to lose
- Liverpool have now won 17 Premier League games in a row, matching their best ever winning streak in league football last set between March and October 2019, and just one shy of Manchester City's all-time English top-flight record of 18 between August and December 2017.
- Liverpool have opened the scoring in each of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Norwich City; no side has ever scored the opening goal in more consecutive games versus another in the competition's history (Chelsea also 14 v Portsmouth).
- Norwich have only won one of their last 13 Premier League games (D5 L7) and have failed to score in back-to-back league matches for the first time since November 2019.
- Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in 10 of their last 11 Premier League matches, this after having only kept one shutout in the previous 11 such games before this.
- Sadio Mané scored the 100th goal of his English club career in all competitions, scoring 25 for Southampton and 75 for current club Liverpool.
What the managers said…
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "It was a difficult game for different reasons. The wind, the organisation of the opponent and the way we played first half made it tricky for us. Fabinho coming on was very important for the organisation. Sadio was fresh and he helped us to win the game, which was outstanding. I have to watch the goal back but I'm pretty sure it was a fantastic finish.
"The gap is so insane; I don't really understand it. I'm not smart enough. I've not had that before. It's outstanding, it's so difficult. I go back into the changing room and we chat about the things and then I'm like oh, but congratulations. We won the game, another three points."
Norwich manager Daniel Farke: "It's disappointing because we did many of the things we wanted to achieve really well. We were playing the best team in the world. When we create chances, we have to be effective, when you are two-on-one on the goalkeeper it must be a goal but sadly we missed that chance. And then it was a moment of magic from Mane that proved crucial to Liverpool winning this game
Man of the Match - Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane has proven time and time again that Liverpool can count on him, no matter what situation they may find themselves in. And, despite Storm Dennis blowing a gale, that was very much the case at Carrow Road.
Norwich were 12 minutes away from becoming only the second side to take points of the champions-elect this season until Mane's timely intervention open their lead at the top to an imperious 25 points.
"He's a wonderful player," Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said. "He's an example of what Liverpool are. There are no real egos and they've got a little bit of everything in that side. In the last 20 or 30 minutes when he came on, they looked better.
"In terms of difficulty, Mane's goal is amazing. To bring it down with his right foot with it coming out of the sky with the wind and everything involved, to bring it down and hit it so early with his left foot so ferociously into the corner, it's just unbelievable."
Liverpool resume their Champions League defence in Tuesday's last-16 first leg at Atletico Madrid at 8pm, before hosting West Ham in the Premier League at 8pm on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports. Norwich, meanwhile, travel to Wolves on Sunday at 2pm.