Liverpool’s hopes of winning the English Premier League title for the first time in 29 years are very much alive thanks a stirring second half performance against Chelsea and a sublime long-range strike from Mohamed Salah.
In what had been a tense and closely fought encounter, Sadio Mane opened the scoring for the Anfield club with a back post header shortly after halftime. But it was Salah who provided the game’s outstanding moment and arguably one of the goals of this Premier League season.
The Egyptian picked the ball up on the right of the Chelsea box in the 53rd minute and arrowed a rasping, unstoppable drive beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga from 25-yards to secure a 2-0 victory and three precious points.
Salah said he was so far out that he felt had to go with just “power” when speaking to UK broadcaster Sky Sports after the match. The goal was also the first Salah had scored from outside of the penalty box in the Premier League for more than a year.
Chelsea twice came close to getting back into the game in the second period through Eden Hazard, the Belgian striking the post before being denied by Alisson in the Liverpool goal.
The result puts Liverpool back atop the Premier League table, two ahead of a Manchester City side that defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 earlier in the day.
City, however, has a game in hand on its title rival.
Avoiding a title slip
The last time Liverpool was in contention to win the Premier League title at this stage of the season, an Anfield defeat to Chelsea put paid to those ambitions.
Steven Gerrard’s costly slip in 2014, which enabled Demba Ba to score for what was then Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, has gone down in English football folklore. It’s also made a significant contribution to meme culture.
Only Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, who missed that fateful game through suspension, remain at Liverpool from that season. However, a young Mohamed Salah started up front for Chelsea.
The Egyptian was quiet on that day but has gone on to become one of the most deadly strikers in the English league since signing for Liverpool in 2017.
On Sunday, he proved his quality once more.
Salah’s driving run in to the Chelsea area enabled Henderson to loft a ball to the back post where Mane opened the scoring.
Within minutes, the “Egyptian King” had doubled Liverpool’s advantage with a piece of long-range magnificence that was all his own making.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp described Salah’s strike as “a brilliant, brilliant goal” when speaking to Sky Sports after the match.
Yet Klopp was more cautious when asked whether his side could win its remaining four games and take the title challenge right to the wire.
“We have to try,” the German said. “We respect all opponents so much.”
Race for the title
Liverpool has four matches remaining, against struggling Cardiff and Huddersfield as well as a tricky trip to Newcastle and final day fixture at home to Wolves.
City, by comparison, has a game more and tougher run in, with Tottenham Hotspur set to visit next weekend followed by a trip to cross town rivals Manchester United four days later.
Two goals from former Liverpool winger, Raheem Sterling, and a late strike from Gabriel Jesus was enough to provide City with victory over Crystal Palace earlier Sunday.
It also ensures only the smallest of margins continues to separate the two teams outstanding teams in English football at the top of the Premier League table.