AAP Soccer

Gutsy Liverpool continue winning EPL ways

By AAP Newswire

Another win for Liverpool. Another step towards a first English championship title in 30 years and a rare undefeated league campaign.

If only it were that easy for the Reds at Anfield on Monday.

The runaway Premier League leaders were given a shock for the first time in months, requiring second-half goals by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over relegation-haunted West Ham.

"I didn't feel any nerves around Anfield," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. "I don't think anyone in the stadium thought it wasn't possible."

Liverpool tied the record for consecutive top-flight wins at 18 and successive top-flight home victories at 21, but not without a scare.

When Pablo Fornals gave West Ham a shock 2-1 lead in the 55th minute, Liverpool trailed in the league for the first time since November and their ambitions of becoming only the second team to go through a Premier League campaign unbeaten - after Arsenal in 2003-04 - were under serious threat.

But after Salah's 68th-minute shot squirmed through the arms and legs of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and over the line in front of The Kop, Mane completed the comeback in the 81st.

"We just tried to keep going, that's the mindset drilled into us by the manager," said Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, who set up the team's first and last goals. "It paid off in the end."

A 26th win in 27 league matches restored Liverpool's 22-point lead over Manchester City and left Klopp's team needing only four more victories to clinch a first league title since 1990.

City are about to lose their crown and might also lose their record for successive top-flight wins next week.

Liverpool, chasing a 19th league title, can move onto 19 wins in a row by beating another side fighting relegation, Watford, away on Saturday.

"I never thought it would be broken or equalled," Klopp said. "We did it and I cannot believe it happened, to be honest."

It looked like it was going to be business as usual for Liverpool when Georginio Wijnaldum headed home a cross from Alexander-Arnold.

But the majority of Anfield was stunned when Issa Diop pulled away from his marker to glance a corner from Robert Snodgrass inside the near post.

Then 10 minutes into the second half, the Reds fell behind in a league game for the first time since November 2 at Aston Villa when substitute Fornals turned in a low cross.

Liverpool were staring at their first loss since a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on January 3 last year until Fabianski's error.

Worse was to come for West Ham as Alexander-Arnold crossed to Mane who made no mistake.

"The disappointing thing is the individual mistakes," said Hammers manager David Moyes.

"We performed really well as a team but we go away with no points and it's the points we need."