Super Salah strike downs Chelsea as Liverpool regain top spot
Premier League, Anfield – Liverpool 2 (Mane 51, Salah 53) Chelsea 0
Mohamed Salah struck one of the goals of the season as Liverpool kept their title bid on track with a crucial 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Anfield.
The Egyptian forward ended a five-game drought on home turf with a rocket of a 25-yard drive to move level with Sergio Aguero at the top of the Premier League goal charts on 19 for the campaign.
It came just two minutes after Sadio Mane had broken the deadlock with a 51st minute header from Jordan Henderson's superb cross from the right.
Eden Hazard spurned two glorious chances to get Chelsea back into it, but Liverpool stood firm to secure a vital win with just four fixtures left to play.
Chelsea stay fourth, but are just two points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United and have played more games than all of their rivals for the Champions League berths.
Liverpool will now turn their attention back to Europe and the second leg of their Champions League quarter final at FC Porto in midweek, while Chelsea host Slavia Prague in the second leg of their Europa League last eight clash.
Premier League football, Liverpool versus Chelsea; Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Jordan Henderson of Liverpool in minute 53Getty Images
A massive moment for Liverpool? That was a major hurdle for Liverpool and was arguably their toughest remaining league fixture on paper. Jurgen Klopp's men now face a trip to struggling Cardiff next Sunday prior to a Friday night clash at home to already-relegated Huddersfield five days later. The Reds will expect to pick up six points from those encounters, while a trip to former boss, Rafael Benitez's Newcastle and a home match to finish against Wolves represent tough but very winnable opportunities to ensure the Merseysiders force Man City all the way in this two-horse race.
The Citizens came through a tricky clash at Crystal Palace earlier, but now face a crucial period in their bid to retain the Premier League trophy. Pep Guardiola's side host Tottenham prior to a midweek trip to Manchester United, when they will play their game in hand against their neighbours. A potentially difficult trip to Burnley follows before a home clash with Leicester and a visit to Brighton conclude their league programme.
Neither side have blinked in recent weeks, but Liverpool will be hoping the strain of City's quadruple tilt will see them drop points in at least one of their next three league fixtures, which will surely play a significant role in deciding where this year's title will end up.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mo Salah (Liverpool). Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold pushed him close, but Salah has stepped up to the mark at a crucial time for Liverpool. Much has been made of the fact he hasn't quite had the same level as last season, but he followed up his important strike at Southampton with a quite magnificent clincher against his old club, to keep the Reds' dreams of a first title since 1990 alive.
Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates with Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (2nd R) and Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (R) after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match bGetty Images
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 8, Matip 8, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7, Fabinho 8, Henderson 8, Keita 7, Mane 8, Firmino 7, Salah 8. Subs: Wijnaldum 6, Milner 6, Shaqiri n/a.
CHELSEA: Kepa 7, Azpilicueta 7, Rudiger 7, Luiz 7, Emerson 7, Kante 7, Jorginho 6, Loftus-Cheek 6, Willian 6, Hazard 7, Hudson-Odoi 6. Subs: Christensen 6, Higuain 6, Barkley n/a.
6' - LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Salah meets Mane's left-wing cross with a miscued volley that flies straight at Kepa.
31' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Luiz breaks up a Liverpool attack and sets Willian free. The Brazilian jinks inside into a central area but hammers his 20-yard shot wide of Alisson's left-hand post.
51' - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea. Anfield erupts! Henderson digs out a dinked cross from the right of the penalty area and Mane is left free to nod home.
53' - GOAL! Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea. It's two! Salah takes down van Dijk's pass to the flank, cuts inside and rifles a stunning drive into the far corner.
60' - CHELSEA CHANCES! Hazard seizes on a ball over the top. He's clear on Alisson but sees his low shot come back off the post. It's a let off for the hosts, but they are almost undone again seconds later. Hazard is left free in the area again, but sees his effort from close range somehow blocked by Alisson.
Liverpool-Chelsea Salah and WilliamGetty Images
Mane has now scored 21 goals in all competitions for Liverpool in 2018-19; his most in a single season in English football.
Salah's strike was his first goal from outside the box in the Premier League since January 2018 (v Manchester City).
Salah ended his longest run without a goal for Liverpool at Anfield (5 appearances), scoring his 1st home goal since February 9.
Liverpool claimed a first home win over Chelsea for the first time since 2012.