Liverpool's match-winner Sadio Mane made the "perfect" return from injury at Norwich City - and now he looks primed to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was delighted with the impact of Mane, with the Senegal forward returning from his hamstring setback to strike a stunning late goal at Carrow Road.

A 1-0 win moved Liverpool 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City, preserving their record of having dropped only two points all season in the Premier League.

Mane and James Milner both came off the bench after recent lay-offs to play their part in Liverpool's 25th win in 26 league outings this term.

Klopp said: "It helps when you have such quality on the bench to bring on."

Now Liverpool turn their focus to Tuesday's first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Diego Simeone's Atletico.

"Sadio could have started, of course," Klopp said, "but I wanted to have a free decision for Tuesday actually.

"I don't think too often and too much about these games, but when two players are back from injuries, like Sadio and Fabinho, you don't think they can play two games. [Don't think they] should play; can, yes, if you have to, but should play.

"And the quality of the other boys is just too big that you have to push somebody through. It was perfect for Sadio to get a few minutes. It looked like he was ready, yes."

Klopp stressed Liverpool's performance in windswept Norwich was not perfect and spoke of the team playing "two or three or four long balls too many".

"Obviously our midfield was sometimes surprised by the long balls of our centre-halves and just couldn't push up early enough or quick enough, so we didn't win the second balls and all these kind of things," Klopp said in his post-match news conference.

"You need to get used to circumstances and after 45 minutes we knew how it feels. More information from us at half-time and we could improve, that was obviously much better then second half.

"We had so many counter-press situations where we won the ball back, where we put them under pressure, kept them under pressure and scored a wonderful goal. That's it."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson set up Mane's winner with a long pass that the striker took down skilfully before turning and firing past Tim Krul.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Henderson said: "It was a fantastic run from Sadio, great touch and a great finish – fantastic goal from him.

"It's good that Sadio is back after his injury and he's straight on the scoresheet, so nice to have him back and nice to get the three points."

Henderson added: "We've got to recover quickly, we've got another big game in midweek against Atletico Madrid which will be another tough test, so we've just got to go there and do everything we can to get a good result."

Liverpool opened up a whopping 22-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League as four second-half goals saw them cruise past Southampton 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds were lucky to not be behind at the break after a chaotic first half, but normal service was resumed after the interval as they racked up a 16th consecutive top-flight triumph.

Merseyside rivals Everton, meanwhile, came from two goals down to edge past Watford 3-2 in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.

Antonio Rudiger scored twice as Chelsea and Leicester City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, while there were wins for Sheffield United and Bournemouth over Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively.

Brighton and Hove Albion came from two goals down to draw 3-3 at West Ham, while bottom side Norwich City held Newcastle United to a goalless draw at St James' Park.

SALAH AT THE DOUBLE FOR RELENTLESS REDS

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive victory over Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp's world champions secured a 24th win from 25 top-flight games this season, with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

RUDIGER HEADS BRACE IN LANDMARK MATCH

Rudiger marked his 100th appearance for Chelsea with an unlikely brace but Frank Lampard's side were unable to secure maximum points.

Chelsea went ahead a minute into the second half at the King Power Stadium when Rudiger nodded in Mason Mount's corner.

Their lead lasted less than 10 minutes, Harvey Barnes drawing Leicester level with the aid of a deflection off Reece James to give Willy Caballero - picked ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga - no chance.

Ben Chilwell put the hosts ahead with a cool finish in the 64th minute, but the Blues claimed a share of the spoils to stay eight points behind third-placed Leicester when Rudiger headed home his second 19 minutes from time.

TOFFEES STING HORNETS WITH LATE STRIKE

Everton's Theo Walcott scored in the 90th minute to complete a remarkable turnaround against Watford.

Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra had put the Hornets 2-0 up, but defender Yerry Mina scored twice in first-half stoppage time to haul Carlo Ancelotti's side level.

Everton's hopes of sealing all three points looked to be over when Fabian Delph was dismissed 13 minutes from time for two yellow cards, but Walcott steered home after a quick break to send the travelling faithful into raptures.  

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp's world champions racked up a 16th consecutive Premier League triumph - and 24th from 25 top-flight games this season - with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

Salah produced a sweet finish for his first in the 72nd minute and showed his composure again at the death to send the Reds 22 points clear of second-place Manchester City, who travel to Tottenham on Sunday.

 

Liverpool moved 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League after Roberto Firmino struck a late winner in a 2-1 defeat of Wolves at Molineux.

The Brazil striker's 10th goal of the season in all competitions six minutes from time was enough to seal a 22nd win from 23 league games this season for Jurgen Klopp's runaway leaders.

There was something of a setback for the visitors, though, who lost Sadio Mane to injury in the first half.

Jurgen Klopp's side had gone 725 minutes without conceding a goal in the top flight, stretching back to the 5-2 win over Everton in December, until Raul Jimenez cancelled out Jordan Henderson's opener.

It looked as though Wolves would be heading for what would have been a deserved point until Firmino fired home from inside the box, as Liverpool stretched their unbeaten league run to 40 matches.

Mohamed Salah joked that Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday because he was back from injury.

Egypt international Salah missed the 1-1 draw between the teams at Old Trafford – the only Premier League game Liverpool have failed to win this season – due to an ankle injury.

In the build-up to the return match at Anfield, the 27-year-old cheekily suggested Jurgen Klopp's side had failed to come out on top because of his absence.

Liverpool moved 16 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, while still possessing a game in hand, after Salah latched onto a long ball from Alisson following a corner in second-half stoppage time, adding to Virgil van Dijk's opener in the 14th minute.

"As you can see today I get back from the injury so we won the game, so I'm very happy for the team now," Salah joked to Sky Sports. "We enjoy the moment and hopefully we finish like that.

"I got a pass from Alisson, no one else could get me the ball, but I'm very happy for the result, that's the most important thing."

Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to City in 2018-19, with a defeat to Pep Guardiola's side in January 2019 shortly followed by a run of four draws in six league games.

Having missed out by such a narrow margin last term, Salah urged his team-mates not to take their foot off the gas. 

"I think we just need to focus on each game, we don't have to think now we've won the Premier League," Salah added.

"We have to keep it game by game, that's the only way we can win the Premier League. We struggled last season at the same time, so we have to keep calm and focus on each game."

Jordan Henderson, who saw a second-half shot tipped onto the post by David de Gea, felt Liverpool were good value for their 2-0 victory but also implored his team-mates not to get ahead of themselves.

"When it's 1-0 it's dangerous, we know that from the Spurs game. I feel as though we should've killed the game off earlier with the chances we had, but we kept going, defended well and managed to get the second in the end, which we deserved I think," said Henderson.

"We're not really thinking about the end again. Why should we change now? Why think about the end of the season? There's still a lot of games left.

"We've taken it by each game for a long time now and it's put us in good stead, so there's no need to change. For us as players it's the next game, the next challenge. United played well at times today but I felt as though we deserved the three points.

"At Liverpool there's always expectation to win and be successful and that hopefully won't change for a very long time."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson insisted he was unfazed about potentially breaking a record set by Arsenal's 'Invincibles'.

Jurgen Klopp's men continued their Premier League dominance with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sheffield United at Anfield on Thursday.

Liverpool are 13 points clear at the top, having won 19 and drawn one of their 20 league games this season, and are unbeaten in the Premier League since January 3 last year.

Nearing the record of 49 straight Premier League games unbeaten set by the Arsenal 'Invincibles', with Liverpool reaching 37, Henderson said it was not something he was worried about.

"I'm not really bothered about that, I'm bothered about the next game, the next challenge and not look too far ahead," he told BT Sport.

"Then, we'll see where that takes us come May."

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane scored in the win over Sheffield United, who managed just three shots against Liverpool.

But Henderson said his side, who host Everton in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, could still get better.

"I still think we can improve. Last 10-15 [minutes] they had a good chance so we can't afford to give teams them chances," he said.

"There's still room for improvement but overall I thought the boys were excellent, the intensity was really good, especially with the amount of games over the Christmas period like everyone.

"But we've coped really well and we need to recover well for the derby on Sunday."

Jordan Henderson's performance in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Thursday left Jurgen Klopp thrilled, the German lauding him as "absolutely incredible".

Liverpool were comfortable winners at Anfield, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane getting the goals in either half.

The victory allows Liverpool's unbeaten run to surpass a full year, as their most recent Premier League loss came on January 3, 2019 – they are next in top-flight action on January 11.

Yet, it was the performance of Henderson that provoked the most excitable response from Klopp in his post-match news conference.

The midfielder made four key passes, completed 92 per cent of his 131 passes and gained possession 12 times, seeing him continue a strong run of form.

"First of all, hopefully it stays like this," Klopp told reporters when asked about Henderson's recent performances.

"Yes, he's exceptional. Yes, he's outstanding. Gini [Georginio Wijnaldum] and Hendo [Henderson], because they had the biggest number of games, what they have played there is just incredible, absolutely incredible.

"I don't take that for granted one second. If anybody who is with us doesn't see the quality of Jordan Henderson, I can't help.

"Is Hendo the perfect player? No. Do I know anybody who is? No. Is he unbelievably important to us? Yes.

"He didn't like the position, number six, when he saw how good Fabinho is. I asked him, two or three weeks ago, when he played already exceptional in the position, 'You don't like the position, right?'

"He was laughing. Before that he played centre-half. I don't know exactly what Gareth Southgate [England manager] is now doing with him, which position he will play there, but there are a few options obviously.

"You see it in life, that character and mentality helps always and in this case especially. For me it's only difficult to speak about one person positively because I always feel I have to mention all the others as well. I don't take it for granted for one second."

Jordan Henderson clinched his status as the player with the most Premier League appearances in the 2010s when he lined up against Wolves on Sunday.

Liverpool's captain was selected in Jurgen Klopp's starting XI for the Anfield fixture, as the Reds looked to extend their lead at the top of the table.

It brought up a 308th appearance in the top flight since the start of 2010 for the 29-year-old, who made the move from Sunderland to Liverpool in 2011.

Team-mate James Milner, named as a substitute against Wolves, began the game with 306 Premier League appearances during this decade.

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster has also played 306 Premier League games since January 1, 2010.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is available for his side's clash with Wolves on Sunday, according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

England midfielder Henderson suffered a kick on the shin in Liverpool's 4-0 victory at Leicester City on Boxing Day but Klopp described the injury as "only pain" as he confirmed the Reds have no new fitness concerns for the visit of Nuno Espirito Santo's in-form side.

The runaway Premier League leaders played a full-strength side at King Power Stadium, with Henderson alongside Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum in Klopp's midfield three, and the Liverpool boss said the same squad of players would be in contention against Wolves.

Assessing his players' recovery, Klopp told the club's official website his charges were "quite OK", adding: "The boys we had available should be available again.

"The only problem is that we are training later this afternoon so I still have to wait for all the information, that's how it is in this period. But it looks like they should be all fine."

Henderson has started 14 of Liverpool's 18 league games this season, scoring once in October's 2-1 victory over Tottenham.

James Milner and Adam Lallana could feature against Wolves should Klopp choose to rest his skipper, but when asked whether Henderson is fit to be involved the Liverpool manager replied: "Yeah, it's only pain!"

Jordan Henderson is keen for Liverpool to keep improving after winning the Club World Cup for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Flamengo in Doha.

Reds captain Henderson was in inspirational form as the Premier League leaders became world champions on Saturday, adding to their European crown from June courtesy of an extra-time Roberto Firmino strike.

Liverpool have become renowned for late goals under Jurgen Klopp, and it was no different on this occasion as Firmino netted in the 99th minute, having passed up big chances as early as 40 seconds in.

Henderson lauded his side, telling BBC Sport: "We have found a way for a long time now, some late goals.

"We just want to keep going, onto the next game, onto the next performance, keep improving. We keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard and keep putting in performances like that."

Assessing the final, in which Flamengo also threatened and should have equalised through substitute Lincoln, Henderson said: "It feels very good. It was an interesting game.

"I am sure it was interesting to watch, but we kept going, good performance and the mentality again shone through.

"We should have scored a couple more, but we defended really well. Overall, we're delighted with the result and the performance in difficult conditions.

"Fair play to the lads - they kept going right until the end and got the goal in extra time."

Liverpool may have been spared extra-time exertions at the Club World Cup on Wednesday, but the deployment of Jordan Henderson as a makeshift centre-back is an experiment they will not want to repeat.

The Reds needed substitutes Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino to combine in stoppage time to book their place in Saturday's final against Flamengo.

Much has been made of the Reds' squad depth in impressive recent wins over Everton and Bournemouth.

However, in only sneaking past Mexican side Monterrey with a late winner in a 2-1 success, it was evident that there is one man Liverpool cannot do without if they are to end their long wait for a Premier League title this season.

Virgil van Dijk was laid low by illness on Wednesday and with recognised centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip also missing due to injuries, it was left to midfielder Henderson to drop back into a defensive berth.

Henderson may be an adept passer and fine midfielder, a man somewhat unfairly maligned, but a centre-back of Van Dijk's ilk he most certainly is not.

The Reds looked ragged in the first half. Andy Robertson and James Milner were bombing on from the full-back positions as usual, but there was a vulnerability to a defensive duo of Joe Gomez and Henderson.

Both men looked susceptible to balls over the top and there was, understandably, little cohesion between the two when it came to a holding a defensive line.

Henderson was caught out of position when Monterrey cancelled out Naby Keita's opener, an unmarked Rogelio Funes Mori slotting home after Alisson saved Jesus Gallardo's volley.

Gomez earned a booking in the second half when Funes Mori got the wrong side of him, the England international dragging his man down rather than leaving him to face Henderson in a race for the ball.

In the end, as they often do, Liverpool found a way to win, though only after Sadio Mane, Alexander-Arnold and Firmino were thrown on.

Of more concern will be how shaky the Reds looked at the back without their inspirational Dutchman, who remains a doubt for Saturday's final against Flamengo.

Gomez, Lovren and Matip have all been questioned at points in their Liverpool careers, though all three have also had strong spells - usually when playing alongside Van Dijk.

Pundits have questioned whether Liverpool can survive a major injury to their vaunted front three, but it is at the other end of the pitch where they cannot afford a lengthy absence.

Van Dijk has played all but 35 minutes of Liverpool's Premier League games over the past season and a half, and he needs to remain available if they are to maintain their relentless title pace.

Georginio Wijnaldum will travel with Liverpool to the Club World Cup despite appearing to injure his hamstring in Saturday's Premier League win over Watford.

The midfielder's participation in Qatar became uncertain after he limped off in the 59th minute of the 2-0 victory at Anfield.

Liverpool confirmed Wijnaldum had suffered a muscle problem but the 29-year-old will still fly out on Sunday as part of a 20-man selection.

Jurgen Klopp will be without defender Dejan Lovren, who has been left behind as he recovers from a muscle issue sustained in the Champions League game against Salzburg.

Young midfielder Harvey Elliott and striker Rhian Brewster have also been trimmed from the initial 23-man squad announced earlier this month.

Liverpool begin the tournament with a semi-final against Mexican side Monterrey in Doha on Wednesday.

Captain and midfielder Jordan Henderson said the European champions had every intention of returning with the silverware.

"Well, we want to go there and win," Henderson told his club's website after the victory over the Hornets. 

"Big games coming up, so we've got to recover well. There's a big game Wednesday and hopefully we can do a job to get into the final on the weekend."

Liverpool's Club World Cup squad:

Alisson, Andy Lonergan, Adrian; Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Neco Williams; Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri; Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi.

Jurgen Klopp was in "competition mood" at Monday's media conference ahead of Liverpool's crunch Champions League clash with Salzburg, taking exception to a translator's response in German.

The Reds require a point from Tuesday's trip to Salzburg to guarantee a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, a competition they won last season.

Klopp was unhappy with how his compatriot translated Jordan Henderson's answer in front of the assembled media, taking particular issue with the translator's assertion that the Liverpool captain said his team would "go easy in this game".

Liverpool boss Klopp said: "It's s**t when next to the translator sits a coach who speaks German. The question was if the Champions League title from the last year helps us because we have always delivered in situations like this.

"He [Henderson] doesn't talk about going easy in this game. We are aware of this challenge. He is speaking about all this normal stuff. You should really listen. Otherwise, I can do it by myself. It's not too difficult."

Switching to English, he then told the media: "I am in a competition mood already, I can tell you."

Klopp will surely hope his side show the same fight in Salzburg.

Jordan Henderson helped a much-changed Liverpool to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth and then claimed it is "easy" for the unbeaten Premier League leaders to maintain their good form due to their squad depth.

Jurgen Klopp made seven changes from the side that beat Everton 5-2 on Wednesday and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah – three of those who came in – were all on target.

The victory, the Reds' 15th out of 16 in the division this season, ensured they will end the day 11 points clear at the top of the table.

With Klopp shuffling his pack at the start of a gruelling run of games, Henderson was asked whether it was difficult to maintain momentum when such wholesale changes are made.

"When you've got so many good players, it's easy," the Reds captain said.

"They've been working every single day, not only the people that might have played a lot of games. People might want more game time but in training the intensity is always high, everyone's pushing each other, and I think the lads that have come in have been outstanding.

"We need to use the whole squad. The manager has said all the way through the season there's going to be a lot of games, so we need everybody and that's proven the case so far. We need to keep that going right until the end."

Liverpool also recorded their first clean sheet since September in the league, with Bournemouth unable to muster a single shot on target against returning goalkeeper Alisson.

"It's a start but one's no good, we want more and more and more," Henderson added.

"I thought it was a proper performance, both defensively and offensively.

"We'll be happy with that, but we want to improve, want to keep going and onto the next game."

Jordan Henderson acknowledged Liverpool were frustrated not to "finish the job" in Champions League Group E by beating Napoli on Wednesday.

Liverpool wanted a win at Anfield to clinch their place in the knockout stages with a game to spare, also guaranteeing top spot in the group.

A 1-1 draw was all the Premier League leaders could manage, though, with Dejan Lovren's header cancelling out Dries Mertens' coolly taken opener.

The result leaves Group E firmly in the balance, with Liverpool needing to avoid defeat in their final match against Salzburg to send themselves and Napoli through.

However, a defeat – combined with Napoli beating Genk – would see the Champions League holders drop into the Europa League.

Reds captain Henderson insists Jurgen Klopp's side can still feel full of confidence heading to Salzburg on December 10.

"We'd have liked to have won, of course, to finish the job [qualification for last 16] but Napoli are a good side and we could only get a point," Henderson told BT Sport.

"I think we're still in a decent position, but there's one game left and we need to go and get a win away now.

"Napoli are a good team, good players, we knew it was going to be difficult. There were obviously times when we knew we could have done better, but we played some good stuff in the second half. We were searching for the second but couldn't manage to get it.

"We keep going, we're still in a healthy position but need to get the win away now. Second half, there was only one team going to win the game, if anyone. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a winner.

"We stay confident. We've still got a job to do away but we're confident we can do that."

Napoli's opener came moments after Virgil van Dijk went down with an apparent hip injury, with the defender claiming he had been fouled by Mertens, who subsequently burst clear and drilled a superb finish beyond Alisson.

VAR checked the goal twice - first for a potential foul and then for offside - before allowing it to stand, and Henderson did not look to make any excuses.

"There was a question of a foul, I thought it might have been offside, but it obviously wasn't," he added. 

"It was early in the game, so we had plenty of time to get back and win the game but, unfortunately, we couldn't do it."

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