Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City: Salah Brace Inspires Liverpool Comeback Win
The brilliant Mo Salah scored twice in front of new team-mate Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool recovered from an early defensive blunder to preserve their unbeaten home record at Anfield and stay in the top four.
Van Dijk, wno will officially join the Reds on January 1 for £75million, had barely taken his seat in the main stand when a mistake by his prospective new defensive partner Joel Matip allowed Jamie Vardy to fire Leicester ahead after three minutes.
Liverpool poured forward in response but had to wait until the 52nd minute before Salah coolly collected Sadio Mane’s backheel and beat Foxes defenders Christian Fuchs and Daniel Amartey before slotting home.
For an encore, the Egyptian then netted his 23rd goal of an incredible debut season at Anfield by receiving a pass from James Milner, spinning past Harry Maguire and firing home.
He is now only one goal behind Premier League Golden Boot leader Harry Kane.
Jurgen Klopp had picked all his Fab Four – Philippe Coutinho, Mane, Robert Firmino and Salah – while Loris Karius was named in goal, with Simon Mignolet dropped or rested dependent on your point of view.
There was pressure on Matip and Dejan Lovren to perform with Van Dijk waiting in the wings to make his debut against Everton on Friday but Leicester’s opener was a disaster for the home defence.
Matip played a careless pass into midfield where Vincent Iborra was too strong for Emre Can in a 50-50. The Spaniard played a pass to Riyad Mahrez that Andy Robertson failed to cut out.
And when Mahrez fizzed in a low cross, Jamie Vardy was too quick for Matip and prodded the ball in.
Liverpool’s reaction was good and they won’t know how they reached the interval without scoring.
Maguire made a brilliant sliding tackle to deny Salah when he was put through and the Egyptian also shot wide from Mane’s cross.
Schmeichel made saves from James Milner, and a particularly good one from Roberto Firmino, and when he was beaten by Mane, the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.
Even a ball change midway through the half didn’t alter Liverpool’s luck with Schmeichel saving again from Firmino. Robertson’s penalty claim after a strong challenge from Daniel Amartey was waved away by Neil Swarbrick.
Leicester’s approach of defending well and trying to catch Liverpool on the counter was reminiscent of their title-winning season in 2016.
But their hopes of a first win at Anfield since Robbie Savage’s team did it in 2000 were reduced after the restart when Salah showed incredible balance in the penalty area to convert his chance.
In the aftermath of an equaliser, Maguire and Can were both booked for wrestling each other to get the ball after Maguire had picked it up from the back of the net.
Salah could have added to his impressive goal tally when fed by Coutinho but lifted his finish onto the roof of the net.
At the other end, Leicester still carried a threat themselves and Wilfred Ndidi was agonisingly close with a 25-yard swerver struck with the outside of his boot.
So, once again it was left for Salah to weave his magic shortly after Claude Puel had withdrawn Mahrez and Vardy.
Firmino’s pass to Milner was played on first time by Liverpool’s skipper and the Egyptian Messi turned 180 degrees and accelerated past Maguire in one movement to score.
Ragnar Klavan came on for the final minute to shore up Liverpool’s lead and received a bang on the back of his head from Karius for his troubles as Klopp’s side held out.