Match report: Salah strike sees off Huddersfield
Liverpool maintained pace with Manchester City at the Premier League summit with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town.
Mohamed Salah scored the game’s only goal 24 minutes into a hard-fought battle with the Terriers, who went closest when Jonathan Hogg smacked a shot against the post shortly after the opener.
Salah’s clinical finish from Xherdan Shaqiri’s neat assist ultimately proved enough to increase the Reds’ tally to 23 points, while the clean sheet saw Jürgen Klopp’s side set a new club record for the fewest goals conceded in the first nine league fixtures of a season.
Watch: Extended highlights of the 1-0 win
With Naby Keita and Sadio Mane ruled out through respective hamstring and hand injuries, Klopp made three changes in Yorkshire – Adam Lallana, Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge coming into the XI.
The first half…
Lallana lined up on the left of Liverpool’s front three as a starting position and Shaqiri was deployed at the point of the midfield ahead of Jordan Henderson and James Milner.
The Reds’ brightest early forays were forged through direct early passes into Sturridge for the No.15 to try to turn possession wide or in behind – though the tactic did not result in any genuine chances.
Klopp soon swapped Salah and Sturridge to put the Egyptian into a more central role and the decision paid rich dividends midway through the half.
Joe Gomez’s excellent threaded knock from deep on the right invited Shaqiri to turn on the ball in Huddersfield territory and reverse a pass into Salah’s run from inside to out.
A fine finish followed; the No.11 calmly clipped the ball low across home goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, onto the far post and in.
The breakthrough was the highlight of a period of Liverpool control but their lead almost slipped away shortly after the half-hour.
Andy Robertson’s headed clearance from a left-wing cross bounced out to the edge of the box and was controlled and walloped back by Terriers captain Hogg – who was unlucky to see the drive cannon away off the left post.
Philip Billing curled a long-range free-kick wide of Alisson Becker’s goal during a spell of Huddersfield pressure that increased as appeals for a Milner handball and penalty were rejected and Alex Pritchard had a strike disallowed for offside.
The second half…
Georginio Wijnaldum’s appearance on the pitch at half-time to warm up signalled a change for Liverpool and it was the captain, Henderson, withdrawn at the outset of the second period.
A balanced ebb and flow to the game continued, punctuated by a Laurent Depoitre headed effort that proved a comfortable take for Alisson to his left.
Salah dragged a shot wide to the right when his run off the flank into the centre was picked out intelligently by Sturridge as the match moved into its final third.
An industrious shift from Lallana came to an end when Fabinho was sent on for his maiden Premier League appearance 20 minutes from time, Shaqiri moving further forward as a result, and Roberto Firmino was later introduced too.
Huddersfield might have levelled late on but substitute Steve Mounie skewed over the crossbar from 10 yards and the Reds preserved three points that nicely kick-start the new phase of the season.