Liverpool, after back-to-back losses to Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion, returned to winning ways with a 3-0 triumph over Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium to strengthen their grip on fourth spot in the Premier League table.
Getting knocked out of the FA Cup at the hands of the Baggies on the weekend had been chastening and Jurgen Klopp’s men were eager to make amends on Tuesday night as they took a commanding 2-0 lead in the first-half thanks to goals from Emre Can and Roberto Firmino.
Klopp opted to start compatriot Robert Karius in goal, with Simon Mignolet warming the bench, and the manager’s selection was vindicated as the German custodian made a superb save from Huddersfield striker Laurent Depoitre at a time when the sides were still deadlocked.
Without their star defender Virgil van Dijk, the Reds did look a little shaky at the back but recovered their swagger and would open the scoring with a fine, albeit a deflected, strike from Can. Andy Robertson’s cross came the German’s way and he swung at the bouncing ball to send a drilled shot past the despairing arms of Jonas Lossl in the 26th minute.
Terriers fullback Chris Lowe would go close to equalising with a free-kick that whistled past Karius’ post as the hosts tried to mount a response but seconds before the interval Liverpool would effectively put the game beyond their reach via a Roberto Firmino goal.
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The Brazilian striker feigned a cross across the face of goal but opted to shot and the ball squirmed past Lossl at the near-post to double the visitors’ lead.
The second-half began with Liverpool in the ascendancy and the Reds could have been 4-0 up had Sadio Mane not fluffed his lines when found unmarked inside the box twice by pinpoint deliveries from Can.
Huddersfield had a penalty shout waved away by referee Kevin Friend and the match official would award Liverpool a spot-kick of their own when Can was bundled over by Philip Billing in the box. Momahed Salah stepped up and sent Lossl the wrong way with 22 minutes left on the clock to register his 19th league goal of the season.
With the result, Liverpool have 50 points from 25 games and, crucially, are within three points of second-placed Manchester United (who play Tottenham Hotspur in their game in hand on Wednesday). The race for the top-four is very much on and Klopp’s side are favourites to clinch the final spot at least, ahead of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal (who lost to Swansea on Tuesday).
The Reds have a massive clash with fifth-placed Spurs on Sunday up next.
Huddersfield remain in 14th place, but their fourth straight loss on the trot is a worrying sign and the Terriers are just a point ahead of 17th-ranked Stoke City. David Wagner’s men have the unenviable task of visiting Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on Saturday now.