Match ends, Norwich City 0, Liverpool 1.
Norwich City 0-1 Liverpool: Unstoppable charge towards title continues
Liverpool's unstoppable charge towards their first top-flight title in 30 years is "outstanding", said Jurgen Klopp after his side edged a narrow victory over bottom-of-the-table Norwich.
Sadio Mane came off the bench to score the winner with 12 minutes remaining, expertly taking down skipper Jordan Henderson's raking pass and smashing in at the near post.
It means Klopp's men need just five more wins from their remaining 12 games to guarantee their first Premier League title, having dropped just two points all campaign, and lie a mammoth 25 points clear of champions Manchester City.
"The gap is so insane, I don't really understand it," Klopp told Sky Sports. "I am not smart enough. I have not had that before. It is outstanding, so difficult.
"I go back into the changing room and we chat about the things and then I am like 'Oh, but congratulations. We won the game, another three points.'"
Chances were at a premium in a blustery first half, but Liverpool ramped up the pressure in the second period - Canaries goalkeeper Tim Krul making a stunning double save to deny Mohamed Salah's low shot and Naby Keita's close-range follow-up.
Having been pegged back for a long period, Norwich could have scored on the counter-attack as Alex Tettey's strike from an angle caught Alisson by surprise at his near post but the effort rattled the foot of the upright.
But Senegal international Mane - who missed the last two games through a hamstring injury - proved to be the difference having entered the action on the hour mark.
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Reds just keep on winning
It looked for a while that it may be a frustrating day for Liverpool at Carrow Road, misplacing a number of passes in the final third and being restricted to long-range efforts.
Keita's drive was tipped over the crossbar by Krul, while efforts from Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were comfortable for the Dutch goalkeeper to deal with.
When the marauding Trent Alexander-Arnold dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box after just 13 seconds, a routine win looked to be on the cards, but the Reds had to battle hard once more.
Klopp added: "I could tell in all the players' faces that they weren't nervous, they were enjoying it, and if one team was going to score it was going to be us.
"We protected against the counter-attack well too. It's really all about these wonderful football players."
To say Liverpool have dominated the division is an understatement - they have annihilated all in front of them and the numbers make staggering reading:
- Liverpool are now unbeaten in 43 league games, closing in on Arsenal's all-time record of 49.
- They have collected a remarkable 103 points from the past 105 available.
- The Reds have picked up 35 wins from their past 36 games - a 1-1 draw at Manchester United in October the only blemish.
- They have won 17 games in a row - one shy of Manchester City's record - and kept 10 clean sheets in their past 11 games.
The result also means 76 points after 26 games is the best record at this juncture in the history of Europe's top five leagues - something even the continent's great sides including La Liga's Barcelona, Juventus of Serie A, Bundesliga's Bayern Munich and Ligue 1's Paris St-Germain were unable to achieve.
The defending European champions go into Tuesday's last-16 first-leg tie at Atletico Madrid in flawless form and Klopp's side will take some stopping from reaching their third consecutive final, as they aim for a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble.
So near yet so far for Norwich
Daniel Farke's side remain anchored to the foot of the table, seven points from safety and are staring at an immediate return to the Championship.
They display some attractive football at times, playing out from the back which almost proved costly on a couple of occasions, but failing to hold out means they have conceded a joint league-high 48 goals.
Had they taken their chances, they would have claimed a spectacular victory against all the odds, with Lukas Rupp left ruing what might have been.
The German midfielder broke the offside trap in the first half and when faced one-on-one with Alisson, inexplicably decided to square the ball towards Teemu Pukki instead of shooting and the Brazilian goalkeeper managed to claw the pass away.
The lively Todd Cantwell struck the side-netting, while Tettey's low, drilled strike hit the upright.
Farke told BBC Sport: "Performance-wise we were pretty good in many topics, sadly one topic was missing, to be clinical in our finishing. We had our chance in the first half."
On Mane's goal, Farke added: "I just watched it back shortly. When the referee doesn't give a foul it won't be overturned. It was also due to the quality of Mane - his control and then his second touch. It was smart movement from Mane and if the referee doesn't give a foul you can't see it [being] overturned. We have already learned that VAR is not on our side.
"Performance-wise we can take a lot of confidence but sadly no points."
Ton up for Mane - the stats
- Liverpool have opened the scoring in each of their past 14 Premier League meetings with Norwich City - no side has ever scored the opening goal in more consecutive games versus another in the competition's history (Chelsea also 14 v Portsmouth).
- Norwich have only won one of their past 13 Premier League games (D5 L7) and have failed to score in back-to-back league matches for the first time since November 2019.
- Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in 10 of their past 11 Premier League matches, this after having only kept one shutout in the previous 11 such games before this.
- Sadio Mane scored the 100th goal of his English club career in all competitions, scoring 25 for Southampton and 75 for Liverpool.
- Mane's goal was his 57th in the Premier League for Liverpool, but the first coming as a substitute.
- Jordan Henderson has assisted five Premier League goals this season; only in 2014-15 (nine) and 2013-14 (seven) has he provided more in a single league season in his professional career.
- Both of Liverpool's past two Premier League games have been goalless at half-time; only two of their first 24 such matches of the season had been 0-0 at the break before this.
- Norwich failed to attempt a single shot in the first half of a league game for the first time under Daniel Farke, and the first time in any league match overall since April 2014 v Manchester United.
Norwich travel to Wolves next Sunday in the Premier League (kick-off 14:00 GMT), while Liverpool are in European action on Tuesday, followed by a Premier League game at Anfield against West Ham next Monday (20:00).
- 5HanleyBooked at 41mins
- 3ByramSubstituted forLewisat 27'minutes
- 27TetteySubstituted forDrmicat 84'minutes
- 7RuppSubstituted forBuendíaat 83'minutes
- 4van Dijk
- 8KeitaBooked at 83minsSubstituted forMilnerat 84'minutes
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forFabinhoat 60'minutes
- 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forManéat 60'minutesBooked at 90mins
- Stuart Attwell
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Norwich City 0, Liverpool 1.
Foul by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).
Emiliano Buendía (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Sadio Mané (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt saved. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Emiliano Buendía with a through ball.
Attempt missed. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) left footed shot from very close range is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross.
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Naby Keita.
Substitution, Norwich City. Josip Drmic replaces Alexander Tettey.
Substitution, Norwich City. Emiliano Buendía replaces Lukas Rupp.
Naby Keita (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Naby Keita (Liverpool).
Todd Cantwell (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Kenny McLean.
VAR Decision: Goal Liverpool - Norwich City 0-1 Liverpool (Sadio Mané).
Goal! Norwich City 0, Liverpool 1. Sadio Mané (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.Goal confirmed following VAR Review.
Attempt blocked. Jamal Lewis (Norwich City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Todd Cantwell.
Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Naby Keita.
Attempt missed. Grant Hanley (Norwich City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ondrej Duda with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Andrew Robertson.
Alexander Tettey (Norwich City) hits the right post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right. Assisted by Todd Cantwell.
Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
Grant Hanley (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Max Aarons.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Teemu Pukki.
Attempt missed. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross.
Foul by Fabinho (Liverpool).
Ondrej Duda (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Liverpool. Sadio Mané replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Substitution, Liverpool. Fabinho replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kenny McLean (Norwich City).
Attempt saved. Naby Keita (Liverpool) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Tim Krul.
Attempt saved. Naby Keita (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Mohamed Salah.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Max Aarons (Norwich City).