Liverpool striker Sadio Mane scored the lone goal against Norwich as Reds bag another three points. Mane's goal recorded his 100th Premier League goal.
Liverpool striker Sadio Mane scored the lone goal against Norwich as Reds bag another three points. Mane's goal recorded his 100th Premier League goal.
Liverpool Twitter

Sadio Mane struck as Liverpool overcame Storm Dennis and feisty basement club Norwich 1-0 to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 25 points.

The champions-elect were short of their fluent best at Carrow Road but returned immediately to winning ways after their winter break. Liverpool have gone 43 top-flight matches unbeaten, just six matches behind Arsenal's record of 49 games in 2003-04 and are sprinting towards their first league title for 30 years.

They have earned 103 points from the past 105 available to them in the Premier League, winning 34 of their past 35 matches. The result leaves Daniel Farke's Norwich rooted to the bottom of the table, six points behind 19th-placed Watford. They look set for an immediate return to the Championship despite their battling performance.

Klopp brought back midfielder Naby Keita for his first start since December and Mane was on the bench as Liverpool started with confidence.

Reds controlled possession early without creating many openings but Norwich managed some brief spells of attractive passing. Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino was particularly impressive, producing an exquisite piece of skill to control a long Jordan Henderson pass before the ball was stolen off his toes as he shaped to shoot.

But despite a few scary moments, Farke's men kept Liverpool quiet and came close to snatching the lead themselves.

Lukas Rupp got in behind the Liverpool defence and controlled a long ball over the top. He opted to pass to his left to Teemu Pukki but Alisson Becker produced a superb save, clawing the ball away at the feet of the Finnish striker.

Breaking the Deadlock

Liverpool were on top again in the second half but struggled to create clear chances until Keita tested Tim Krul from distance in the 58th minute. The Anfield giants laid siege to the Norwich goal but frustration mounted as the home side somehow kept the score at 0-0.

Moments later Keita should have done better when he reacted quickly to a rebound off Krul but the ‘keeper dived to his right to deny him. Alexander Tettey almost caught Becker out on a rare Norwich foray into the Liverpool half, thundering a shot against the near post as the home crowd roared their team on.

Just when it seemed Norwich could become only the second team this season, after Manchester United, to deny Liverpool a win, Mane broke the deadlock. Substitute controlled a long ball from Henderson in the 78th minute before lashing home with his left. Pukki had a late chance to equalise but shot straight at Alisson as Liverpool held on for their 25th win in 26 Premier League matches.

Defending champions Manchester City, reeling from a potential two-season European ban for breaching fair play rules, are in second place in the table but have no chance of winning a third straight title.

Watch out for Reds as Champions League returns

Liverpool return to the scene of their Champions League triumph when they visit Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday very much the team to beat for those hoping to succeed Jurgen Klopp's men as European champions. Liverpool are coasting towards a first Premier League title in 30 years having dropped just two points all season and are likely to be crowned English champions before the Champions League quarter-finals commence in early April. Liverpool remain on course for a potential five-trophy haul this season. They have already lifted the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup and are used to reaching European finals under Klopp.

The German has overseen three in four seasons at Anfield, losing the Europa League final to Sevilla in 2016 and Champions League to Real Madrid two years later before getting over the line against Tottenham in the Spanish capital last year.

"I have no clue if we can win the Champions League again but we should be ready to go for it," said Klopp.

"What I know and what we showed last year is that we can beat the best." On current form Atletico are little match for the holders.

For the first time in over eight years in charge, the future of Diego Simeone has been questioned with Los Rojiblancos languishing well off the pace in La Liga and battling just to qualify for next season's Champions League.

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