Sadio Mane came off the bench to inspire Liverpool as they extended their lead at the Premier League summit to 25 points courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 victory at rock-bottom Norwich.
The Reds were made to work for their club record-equalling 17th straight league success, eventually prevailing thanks to Mane's brilliant goal 12 minutes from time.
The Merseysiders struggled to carve out clear-cut chances for long spells with strong wind and some minor rust following their winter break possible reasons for failing to hit top gear.
Norwich had their moments when Alisson denied Teemu Pukki and Alex Tettey hit the woodwork, but the hosts could not repeat the heroics that saw them stun reigning champions, Manchester City on home turf back in September.
The Canaries remain seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the table and face an increasingly uphill task to avoid the drop.
Next up, Liverpool travel to Atletico Madrid for the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash while Norwich travel to Wolves next Sunday.
Five to go. It was far from vintage, but the bottom line is that this Liverpool side found a way once again and are now 15 points away from being crowned champions. They continue their surge towards a 19th top-flight title and such is their lead at the summit, it has been a case of when and where they end a 30-year wait, rather than if, for quite some time. The win means Liverpool have the best record after 26 matches in the history of the top five European leagues and are now 43 top-flight games unbeaten. Barely a week goes by without some sort of record being matched or broken as this relentless winning machine powers on.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sadio Mane (Liverpool). The forward answered his manager's SOS from the bench, producing a moment a sheer class to decide a tight encounter. Mane had not featured since suffering a hamstring issue in the 2-1 win at Wolves on January 23, but came back with a bang here to net his 100th goal in English football.
NORWICH: Krul 8, Aarons 8, Zimmermann 8, Hanley 8, Byram 6, Tettey 7, McLean 7, Rupp 7, Duda 7, Cantwell 7, Pukki 6. Subs: Lewis 7, Buendia n/a, Drmic n/a.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 7, Gomez 7, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 8, Henderson 8, Wijnaldum 6, Keita 7, Salah 6, Firmino 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6. Subs: Fabinho 6, Mane 8.
35' - NORWICH CITY CHANCE! What a save! Rupp's late run from deep catches Liverpool high up the pitch. He touches the ball towards Pukki for a tap-in, but the onrushing Alisson reads it and flings out a big hand to slap it to safety.
59' - LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Wow! What a double save! Krul gets down to parry Salah's low drive before somehow reacting to deny Keita on the rebound from close range.
72' - NORWICH CITY CHANCE! Tettey sees a shot from the far edge of the area cannon back off Alisson's near post!
78' - GOAL! Norwich 0-1 Liverpool. Mane comes off the bench and delivers! The Senegalese forward rifles a low shot in at the near post after a wonderful touch saw him take down Henderson's deep pass.
86' - LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Firmino somehow blazes wide from a fizzing, low cross from TAA.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Liverpool with Max Aarons of Norwich City during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road on February 15, 2020 in Norwich, United Kingdom.
Image credit: Getty Images
- Liverpool have scored in 35 consecutive Premier League games - only Arsenal (55 games between May 2001 – November 2002) and Man United (36 games between December 2007 – November 2008) have been on a longer such runs in the competition’s history.
- Mane's goal was his 100th goal for English clubs across all competitions (75 for Liverpool and 25 for Southampton).