Norwich City 0-1 Liverpool - Gutsy City beaten by relentless Liverpool
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Table topping Liverpool extended their lead at the summit of the Premier League to 25 points after Sadio Mane’s strike ensured a 1-0 victory over a resilient Norwich City side.
Mane's strike on the 78th minute sunk City. The Senegalese international controlled exceptionally well on the turn before unleashing a driven strike past Tim Krul.
Daniel Farke opted to field the same XI who returned from St James' Park with a point a fortnight previous, with both Emi Buendia and Ben Godfrey named on the bench.
Grant Hanley's recent run of impressive form saw him retain his place in City's backline and fellow Scot Kenny McLean made his 50th appearance for the Canaries.
Champions elect Liverpool strolled into Carrow Road looking to extend their unbeaten run to 26 matches. Jurgen Klopp was forced to make a change to his formidable front three, with Mane among the substitutes as he continued his recovery from a hamstring injury. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was preferred on the left-hand side.
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The German made one change to his side, with Naby Keita replacing Fabinho in the Reds' engine room. Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were both looking to add to their individual tallies to help extend Liverpool's lead at the top of the table.
Klopp's men took immediate control of the fixture, with the table toppers carving out their first opportunity after just 13 seconds, when the dangerous Trent Alexander-Arnold shot from range, but his effort was drilled well wide.
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Virgil Van Dijk's impressive range of passing became apparent in the opening 10 minutes, with the Dutch centre-back profiting from Todd Cantwell's poor positioning to find Alexander-Arnold on the right.
Liverpool worked the ball to the left where Oxlade-Chamberlain found Firmino, only for the Brazilian to see his shot blocked by Hanley.
From there, City defended with resilience and solidity, limiting the visitors to prolonged spells of possession without the flurry of chances typically associated with Klopp's men. The Reds were looking to suck the Canaries in before unleashing a diagonal pass to catch them out.
Liverpool continued to press, with Georginio Wijnaldum finding the overlapping Andrew Robertson. The Scot worked his way to the byline before delivering a cross, only for outstretched leg of Hanley to avert the danger.
City had a wonderful opportunity to take the lead and capitalise on their positive work out of possession after McLean lofted a pass into Lukas Rupp. The German ran through but opted to attempt to square the ball to Pukki, only for Alison to intercept.
Liverpool resumed the second half in the ascendancy as they sought to pose some more meaningful questions of City's defence.
It was City who created the first chance after the interval, with Pukki picking up Jordan Henderson's pass and driving towards goal. He teed up Cantwell for a shot, but the space was limited and the England under-21 international was crowded out.
The Canaries recycled possession effectively and Max Aarons surged down the right-hand side. HIs low pass found Ondrej Duda, who played in Cantwell but his shot from an acute angle crashed against the side-netting.
The Reds were still attempting to construct chances, and they were close to a breakthrough after Salah's flick allowed Keita to strike, but Krul palmed his effort over the bar.
Moments later, Liverpool attacked again, Salah controlled a deflected cross and twisted past numerous challenges before striking on goal.
Krul parried his effort but Keita was first to the rebound, only for the Dutch keeper to produce a sensational save from close-range to deny the midfielder.
City dispossessed Liverpool inside their own half and broke through Cantwell. He progressed the ball into Liverpool's half before finding Tettey. The Norwegian let the ball run across his body before striking from an acute angle. His effort caught out Allison but hit the post.
Liverpool's dominance was eventually rewarded after a long pass found Mane, who received the ball on the turn before unleashing a strike into the net on 78 minutes. Christoph Zimmermann appealed for a foul, but VAR confirmed the goal.
It should have been two after 86 minutes. Hanley cleared Henderson's low cross but the Liverpool captain clipped a pass into Alexander-Arnold. He whipped a cross into the box where Firmino was waiting but he uncharacteristically blasted over the bar.
City continued to probe, with substitute Emi Buendia exchanging passes with Josip Drmic before threading through Pukki. The Finn snatched at the shot and it flew into Alisson's hands.
The Canaries held their own in the fixture for extensive periods but a moment of quality from Mane proved decisive.
- Norwich City (4-5-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley (C), Byram (Lewis, 26); Tettey (Drmic, 83), McLean; Rupp, Duda (Buendia, 83), Cantwell; Pukki. Subs not used: Fahrmann (GK), Godfrey, Vrancic, Hernandez
- Bookings: Hanley
- Goals: None
- Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson (C), Keita (Milner, 84), Wijnaldum (Fabinho, 60); Salah, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mane, 60). Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Lovren, Lallana, Origi
- Bookings: Keita, Mane
- Goals: Mane 78
- Added on time: 2 mins/ 3 mins
- Attendance: 27,110 (2,595 away)
- Referee: Stuart Attwell
- VAR: Paul Tierney