Sadio Mane kept Liverpool’s quadruple hopes alive after frantic comeback win at Aston Villa
he striker’s 22nd goal of the season handed Jurgen Klopp’s side a 2-1 victory to level them at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City.
Joel Matip snuffed out Douglas Luiz’s opener during a crazy six-minute opening.
Liverpool are behind City on goal difference and their rivals have a chance to take a three-point lead with two games to go when they travel to Wolves on Wednesday.
Klopp is now taking his side to Wembley for Saturday’s FA Cup final, with Chelsea in the next stage of their quadruple quest.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed a “massive result and massive performance”.
He said on Sky Sports: “After the games we played and a not good start, we needed time to adapt but gave a very good response from being 1-0 down.”
However, Klopp was not happy to see a Villa player under construction ruled offside despite being cleared by a VAR review.
“If you think I only talk about these things when we lose, then that’s an issue that needs to be resolved,” said Klopp.
“It was an obvious offside situation, but play just kept going and we were under pressure at that moment.
“VAR wasn’t important today (in the end result), but in general we could really think about how we could solve that.”
Mo Salah started on the bench ahead of the Wembley showdown and the gamble seemed to backfire when Villa took the lead in midfield in the third minute.
Ollie Watkins ran behind the Liverpool defense and Alisson smashed away his powerful drive only for the Reds to concede immediately afterwards.
Matty Cash’s cross found its way to Lucas Digne and his delivery was blocked by Luiz, whose header was first saved by Alisson only for the midfielder to hammer in from close range.
It sent Villa Park wild but the home crowd was silenced just three minutes later when Liverpool messed up a leveler.
A chaotic opening continued as Tyrone Mings messed up a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick and Matip poked Virgil van Dijk’s center from four yards.
Sloppy Liverpool had received an immediate reply but they stayed ragged at the back – and Alisson escaped after sending a reckless pass straight at Watkins.
Minutes later he was slammed into John McGinn’s cross by Danny Ings, only for the former Liverpool striker to head in.
It had been a fortuitous half of the visitors who lost Fabinho to a hamstring injury as they lived dangerously in the back and Watkins posed a threat.
But Liverpool had started to find the openings, Mane nodding widely beforehand and rightly ruling out a tap-in for Luis Diaz’s offside after 33 minutes.
The recalled Philippe Coutinho rolled in for Villa but it was Naby Keita who squandered a fabulous chance 10 minutes from the break.
Alexander-Arnold could not have gifted it more when the ball landed eight yards short of the unmarked midfielder, but he embarrassingly missed his shot and the goal was at his mercy.
It said it all about a frenetic half-time and while Liverpool eventually exerted a degree of control, they were never at ease.
The breakneck nature continued after the break, when Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick blew wide and Konstantinos Tsimika’s brilliant defense was thwarted by Watkins.
Liverpool continued to see more of the ball, Alexander-Arnold firing another free-kick wide before they took the lead after 65 minutes.
Diogo Jota sent Diaz down the left and he teased Mings before delivering the perfect cross for the unmarked Mane to get a look in his eighth goal in his last 11 games.
Even then, Villa had a chance for an immediate response, but Ings’ touch failed him once he was through.
Salah came on from the bench with 19 minutes to go to replace Diaz as Liverpool tried to kill the ball and Cash headed Mane’s volley clear.
But they couldn’t find a third and needed Alisson to save from Ings before the former Anfield star ruled out a goal for offside during a nervous final.
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports: “The lads were incredible for a while and tonight was no different.
“We knew it was going to be difficult with difficult moments, but we kept digging in and kept finding a way to win.
“It was difficult to get here but we’re going on and it’s another big game over the weekend with the cup final.
“We just focus on what we’re doing.”
Henderson was full of praise for Reds goalscorer Mane.
“His performances are always amazing with the amount of work he does off the ball,” said the England midfielder. “It was an incredible finish and it gives us the three points.”
Henderson claims Liverpool only need to focus on themselves as the title race comes to an end.
“We’re in the position we were in before the game,” he said. “Now we have another big game at the weekend with the (FA) Cup final, so we have to recover well and give everything again.
“It (different results) is out of our control. But we don’t need to waste our energy on it and will just focus on what we need to do, which is the cup final against Chelsea at the weekend.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/premier-league/jurgen-klopp-hails-massive-result-as-liverpool-keep-quadruple-bid-on-track-at-aston-villa-41636891.html Jurgen Klopp hails ‘massive result’ as Liverpool keep quadruple bid on course at Aston Villa