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EPL: Liverpool stay in title hunt with Villa win

May 11, 2022 00:17 IST
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Sadio Mane

IMAGE: Liverpool's Sadio Mane in action with Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters

Sadio Mane headed the winner as Liverpool came from a goal down to edge Aston Villa 2-1 on Tuesday and keep alive their hopes of reclaiming the Premier League title from leaders Manchester City.

The win moved Liverpool level with City on 86 points in the standings, but the champions have a game in hand which takes place on Wednesday when they travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

 

Any hope of Villa coach Steven Gerrard giving his former club an easy ride was quickly dispelled as his team flew out of the blocks from kickoff in front of a boisterous home crowd.

They took a third-minute lead when Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson spilled a header from Douglas Luiz straight back into the path of the Brazilian forward who fired in from close range, with defenders Kostas Tsimikas and Joel Matip both prostrate.

Juergen Klopp's side equalised less than three minutes later, when Virgil Van Dijk met Trent Alexander-Arnold's free kick and although Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez managed to get a hand to his effort, Matip poked in the rebound.

The visitors, uncharacteristically nervy, suffered a setback around the half hour mark as defensive midfielder Fabinho was forced off injured, putting his participation in Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea in serious doubt.

However, they recovered and settled down in the second half as Senegalese forward Mane put his side ahead in the 65th minute with a smart header from a Luis Diaz cross.

It was his 15th league goal of the season, the third Liverpool player to reach at least that mark this campaign after Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota.

Villa striker Danny Ings forced some good saves from Alisson in the latter stages and had a goal ruled out for offside with less than five minutes remaining. However, Liverpool held firm to move level with City, for 24 hours at least.

"It was always going to be tough and we have to keep going. We're in the same position as we were before the game. It was a big game and another three points," Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports.

"We concentrate on what we need to do. It is another big game at the weekend, the FA Cup final and we have to recover for that. It is out of our control (the title race), we do not need to waste energy on that."

Villa remain 11th and next face Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Klopp lauds 'machine' Mane as forward linked with summer move

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp heaped praise on his forward Sadio Mane after the Senegalese scored the winner against Aston Villa on Tuesday that kept his side alive in the Premier League title race.

Mane's smart header in the 65th minute from a Luis Diaz cross once again showed his ability in front of goal, on the same day reports emerged that Barcelona and Bayern Munich were interested in signing the 30-year-old with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

Liverpool were struggling at 1-1 in the game at Villa Park until Mane's intervention which was his 22nd goal for the club in all competitions this season.

"He's a machine, I told him after the game. He is a massive player. His physicality is brutal. He is a mix of technique, desire and physicality when at the moment everyone has a few yards in the legs," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"You can see it with him to be honest. Top goal, he is just a fantastic world-class player."

British media reports said on Tuesday Liverpool were keen to re-open contract talks with Mane to ward off potential suitors such as Bayern who may need to replace striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Pole has been linked with a move away from the German champions this summer.

Klopp will bank on Mane providing some more inspiration in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday, but he may have to do without defensive midfielder Fabinho who was forced off injured in the first half at Villa.

"Yeah, like all injuries during the season (it's a blow). He's rather positive, I'm not sure what I can make of that so we have to wait for further assessment," the German told the BBC.

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Source: REUTERS
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