Liverpool's high-risk strategy pays off to put pressure back on Man City in title race

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The Jurgen Klopp fist pump towards the travelling Liverpool fans at the final whistle was delivered with extra gusto.

This was a huge moment in the title race, a game where Klopp played a high risk strategy but still ended up with a victory which puts the pressure back on Manchester City. Sadio Mane’s wonderful piece of skill, a sensational improvised header to seal victory midway through the second half, means Liverpool are back level on points with City.

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City boss Pep Guardiola has a game in hand, superior goal difference but they must go to Wolves on Wednesday night and win. But whatever happens now, this brilliant, thrilling and unmissable title race will go into the final week of the season. Klopp rested and rotated, Liverpool have Saturday’s FA Cup final in their sights as they still chase down the second trophy of the season in their unlikely push for quadruple.

Liverpool's high-risk strategy pays off to put pressure back on man city in title race

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( Image: Getty Images)

Liverpool’s slip at home to Tottenham on Saturday saw them drop two points and handed the initiative to City but this victory was a clear signal of defiance. It was a night which ended up costing them dear because Fabinho, the only one of the three first choice midfielders to start, limped off before the half hour mark with what looked like a hamstring injury.

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The injury blow comes just four days before the FA Cup final and less than three weeks before the Champions League final so this gruelling, non-stop season might finally be catching up with Liverpool. But there is simply no way they are giving up. Their determination and desire was there for all to see as Klopp celebrated with the Liverpool supporters at the end.

Mane has now got 22 goals this season, including eight in his last ten games, and when they have needed them, the big players have stepped up. Klopp did rest Andy Robertson ahead of Wembley on Saturday and started with Mo Salah, Jordan Henderson and Thiago on the bench but they all had to come on to secure the win.

Liverpool's high-risk strategy pays off to put pressure back on man city in title race

Sadio Mane netted the winner for Liverpool ( Image: REUTERS)

It was a gamble and, after just three minutes, it looked in serious danger of backfiring as Villa went ahead amid some chaotic defending. Lucas Digne put over a cross from the left, Tsimikas and Joel Matip collided into each other. Douglas Luiz’s header was only parried by Alisson but the Villa midfielder bundled home the loose ball.

Klopp, who gave Curtis Jones a rare start in midfield, looked furious but the mark of a great team is the way they respond. And Liverpool roared back just three minutes later at the expense of some equally poor Villa defending. Tyrone Mings trod on the ball, Matip and Diogo Jota got the ball forward, Virgil van Dijk then had a shot saved by Emiliano Martinez and Matip bundled home.

At that stage, it looked like the score could resemble the 7-2 crazy game between these two sides at Villa Park last season. Mane headed just wide, Ollie Watkins could not take advantage of an Alisson slip and Tsimikas made a terrific last ditch tackle. It was wide open. But Liverpool, with Henderson and Thiago on as substitutes, began to exert more control. Jota played the ball forward, Luis Diaz was given too much space by Mings and he drilled in a cross.

Mane somehow reacted quick as a flash, directed a header into the far corner and it flew into the net. It was a moment of magic. There was drama and let-offs towards the end. Alisson made a big save from Danny Ings. Klopp called it a “massive win” for Liverpool. No wonder. Over to you, City.

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