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Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah goals secure win - BBC

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Anfield

As a Liverpool player, Mohamed Salah has now scored against 23 of the 24 Premier League teams he has faced more than once in the competition, only failing to do so versus Swansea City

Liverpool's procession towards their first title in 30 years continued with a hard-fought win over Manchester United at Anfield that extended their lead at the top of the table to 16 points with a game in hand.

The hosts were the superior side but faced late United pressure as they defended Virgil van Dijk's 14th-minute header, before wrapping up the win in style in injury time when goalkeeper Alisson's long clearance set Mohamed Salah clear to score and spark wild celebrations among supporters now convinced that long wait is coming to an end.
Liverpool could have emphasised their superiority as Roberto Firmino had a goal contentiously ruled out by the video assistant referee for Van Dijk's challenge on David de Gea, while the United keeper touched Jordan Henderson's shot on to the post and Salah missed an open goal from six yards.

United, who had striker Marcus Rashford ruled out for a lengthy period before kick-off with a back injury, actually had chances of their own. Andreas Pereira turned wide of an open goal in the first half and Anthony Martial shot over the top from an inviting position after the break.

It came as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side rallied in the second half, but it was to no avail and Liverpool march relentlessly on, with 21 wins from their first 22 games.
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Liverpool simply unstoppable

Liverpool have scored in all their Premier League games this season
It is simply a case of when the coronation comes as Liverpool reeled off yet another win en route to the Premier League title. They are not only doing their own job but watching in satisfaction as the chasing pack - chasing from afar it must be said - fall further behind, with dropped points for Manchester City and Leicester City on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
There was rare anxiety around Anfield in the closing minutes before the sweet release of Salah's goal - Alisson rightly running the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations after his long clearance sent the Egyptian clear to score.
Liverpool could have wrapped up victory more comfortably, but with the imperious Van Dijk at the back and menace up front, it is hard to see how they can be stopped in one game - and they certainly will not be in this title race.
And, of course, victory was made even sweeter as it was at the expense of Manchester United, the old foe who famously fulfilled Sir Alex Ferguson's promise to knock Liverpool off their perch.
United now trail Liverpool by 30 points and this is not a gap that flatters Klopp's men.
The gulf is not only huge between Liverpool and United. In the Premier League context, it is huge between Liverpool and the rest of the Premier League.

Martial had Manchester United's best chance but fired well over when in on goal,

Manchester United may point to the fact they were in with a chance of gaining a point until the closing moments here but any suggestion they matched Liverpool is an exercise in delusion.
In United's defence they are without key players such as Rashford, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba but they now trail Liverpool on and off the pitch by an embarrassing margin.
Solskjaer's side were clinging on for so much of this game and squandered the big opportunities when they came in the shape of those chances for Pereira and Martial.
Martial's wild finish was symptomatic of his performance. United were counting on him even more in Rashford's absence but he simply failed to deliver. He was laboured and lack-lustre.
United did close down Liverpool's potent full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson for large parts of the game but there is a glaring lack of quality that has been exposed so often this season.
Liverpool found it was a very long way back to title glory once momentum had been lost and too many poor decisions made.
On this evidence, it does not look like it will be any easier for Manchester United.
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Man of the match - Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk (left) has scored eight league goals for Liverpool since joining in January 2018, the most of any Premier League centre-back in that time

'The energy was incredible' - what they said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It's a big relief, I was really happy with 85-90% of the game, we were brilliant. We dominated the game, especially in the first half. The energy they put on the pitch was incredible.
"On a normal day we would have scored three times in the first half and in the second half until 65 minutes we should have been more clear.
"But then United have obvious quality, played a bit more football and we had to defend. There were little mistakes here and there, we didn't use possession well enough and so the game stays open.
"Then we scored a wonderful, wonderful goal at the end, a really good feeling."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "The players gave us everything. Today we hung on a bit at the start of second half, but the last 25-30 minutes we pressed them and pushed them back. I'm disappointed with conceding from a corner and with the last kick - but very many positives.
"I felt in the second half we performed really well against a good team and at a difficult place.
"We didn't have quality with our finishing or last pass. Fred was absolutely top and David de Gea. As a team we worked together as a unit."

Liverpool have won consecutive home Premier League games against Manchester United for the first time since winning three in a row between September 2008 and March 2011.
Manchester United have lost nine of their last 16 away Premier League games (W3 D4 L9), failing to score in eight of those games.
Liverpool have taken 91 points from the last 93 available to them in the Premier League (P31 W30 D1).
Liverpool became the first team since Arsenal in 2001-02 to score in their first 22 Premier League matches of the season - the Gunners went on to score in every game and win the title that season.
Liverpool have kept seven consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since December 2006 (seven in a row).
Since the start of last season, Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has more Premier League assists than any other player (21).
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson became the first Reds goalkeeper to assist a Premier League goal since March 2010, when Pepe Reina assisted against Sunderland.

Copyright © 2020 BBC. 

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