LONDON – Liverpool seems to have learned a thing or two as they prevailed over Chelsea 2-0 on goals by Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to stay in the fight for the Premier League title.
The victory enables Liverpool to stay ahead of Manchester City, which has a match in hand, with four matches to go in one of the tightest Premier League seasons in recent years.
The match coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, which left 96 people dead, and fans marked the occasion by laying out a mosaic before the game.
This was not the only historic memory conjured up by the game, as the 2014 clash against Chelsea that ended Liverpool’s title hopes permeates the atmosphere of Anfield stadium every time the London team visits the Reds’ home ground.
The game also was special for coach Jürgen Klopp since it is his 200th as Liverpool’s manager, although the first 45 minutes did not live up to expectations.
Liverpool, led by Salah and Mane, dominated in terms of ball possession, while Chelsea, which is seeking to secure a berth in the UEFA Champions League next season, waited for the chance to counterattack.
However, Chelsea failed to make the most of the opportunities it had on the counter, while Mane, at the other end of the field, lacked precision on the final touch.
Both teams seemed to be affected by the European competitions: Champions League for Liverpool, who prevailed 2-0 over Porto in the first leg of the quarterfinals, and Europa League for Chelsea, who defeated Slavia Praha 1-0 in the first leg of the quarterfinals.
This set Chelsea, missing Rudiger due to a knee injury, back a step, while Liverpool sought the three points and the home side was rewarded.
After a combination between Jordan Henderson and Salah inside the area, the Englishman passed the ball to Mane, whose header got past Kepa.
Just two minutes later, Chelsea endured another blow as Salah got the ball down the right side and fired a shot that not only doubled Liverpool’s lead, but also allowed him to get back into the top spot of the Reds’ top scorer list that he temporarily had conceded to Mane.
It was too late for Sarri to make changes, although he sent Gonzalo Higuain onto the field, but they were already down 2-0.
Hazard, however, had a couple of chances, although first he hit the woodwork, and then Alisson Backer cleared the ball off the goal line.
Earlier in the day, Manchester City had defeated Crystal Palace 3-1.