Mohamed Salah’s incredible goalscoring run continued as the Liverpool winger struck a second-half brace to fire the Reds to a 2-1 win over Leicester City in an entertaining Premier League game at Anfield.
Previous clashes between the sides had been goalfests and when Jamie Vardy put the visitors ahead in the 3rd minute itself, many thought history would repeat itself.
The in-form Vardy tapped-in to an empty net after Riyad Mahrez set him perfectly, with the Foxes pouncing on a lose ball from Liverpool defender Joel Matip.
The Reds’ defensive woes have been well-documented this season, perhaps why they splashed the cash to sign £75 million-man Virgil van Djik but the Dutchman was unavailable for Saturday’s tie and the hosts had to make do without him.
Up front, the ‘Fab Four’ of Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all started and the quartet was the reason why Liverpool looked like they would equalise almost every time they got the ball.
Mane set up Salah inside the box and while the Egyptian’s first-touch was good, his finish wasn’t and he sent his effort wide, much to the disbelief of the Kop.
Salah would go close soon after, but again would send his shot off target and as Liverpool amped up the pressure, an equaliser seemed imminent but Kasper Schmeichel was in fine form as he made a smart stop to deny Roberto Firmino and the half-time whistle sounded with the visitors ahead by the slenderest of margins.
The Foxes were defending resolutely and only a moment of brilliance would unlock their defence and that’s exactly what Mane did when his deft back-heel sent Salah through on goal.
Salah still had a bit of work to do and shrugged off the challenge of one defender, before beating another with a shimmy and then finishing past Schmeichel in the 52nd minute.
Leicester were stung into action and Wilfred Ndidi would flash a volley just wide of Loris Karius’ post and as the clock ticked, it became apparent whoever scored the second goal would clinch three points.
Fortunately for Liverpool, the man who got himself onto the scoresheet was Salah.
Despite being shackled by the hulking Harry Maguire, Salah managed to wriggle free of his marker and beat Schmieichel for a second time on the night with less than 14 minutes left in the tie.
Jurgen Klopp responded by taking off Salah, who now has 17 goals in the Premier League alone, and replacing him with Georginio Wijnaldum as he sought to see the game off.
There was to be no final twist to the tale as Liverpool held on to move within three points of third-placed Manchester United.
Considering Chelsea beat Stoke City 5-0 to move into second place, it was imperative to keep pace with the Blues and Liverpool will now approach 2018 with plenty of optimism.
They next take visit Burnley on New Year’s Day, a tough game as the Clarets have been the surprise package this season while Leicester host Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town on the same day and will look to bounce back from their defeat in Merseyside.