By Peter Hall
LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Liverpool have blown many teams away under Juergen Klopp’s guidance, but for a third successive match they showed a different way to win in a 2-1 victory over Leicester City which maintained their perfect start to the Premier League season.
Brendan Rodgers, the man who almost steered Liverpool to a maiden Premier League title in 2013-14, brought a Leicester side to Anfield widely expected to provide the league leaders with their toughest domestic test yet.
Liverpool’s last two performances in a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United and a 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League were not their usual high octane, unstoppable attacking displays.
They required a bad error from Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and a Mohamed Salah winner against Salzburg after seeing a 3-0 lead pegged back to 3-3, and preparations for the visit in-form Leicester were far from ideal.
Since Rodgers was appointed Leicester manager, only Liverpool and Manchester City have won more Premier League points than the Foxes, and it appeared that he had got his tactics spot on as the hosts were frustrated early on.
Sadio Mane did give Liverpool the lead, and they made chances to double their advantage in the second half, but as the match wore on, Liverpool again looked nervous.
Jamie Vardy had a great chance to equalise before James Maddison did as Liverpool, chasing a 17th consecutive Premier League win, looked to have been denied victory.
Nonetheless, they kept coming, even after Salah went off injured, chasing every lost cause.
Leicester looked to have everything under control with defenders and goalkeeper surrounding the ball in stoppage time, but Mane did not give up, capitalised on an error and won the penalty out of nothing that snatched the three points.
VAR was required to confirm, with Rodgers labelling the decision soft, but having not fired on all cylinders for the third time in a week, Liverpool found a way.
“In a difficult week like we had with a very difficult Champions League opponent, to then play a Leicester side like this, who did not play in midweek, is difficult,” Klopp said.
“The energy level was incredible. The problem was we only scored one goal.
“We knew we were going to fight for the win and we did. Without luck we cannot win the amount of games we have won but over the 90 minutes, we deserved it.”
Now one away from equalling Manchester City’s all-time record for consecutive top-flight league wins, Liverpool hold an eight-point lead at the top.
There is a long way to go in the season, but having shown resilience three times in a week to edge matches that could have gone either way, they have shown they possess the fighting spirit to secure their first top-flight title since 1990.
(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond)