Liverpool regain top spot with Anfield victory over Sheffield United

Match reportLiverpool regain top spot with Anfield victory over Sheffield United

By James Carroll at Anfield


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Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 victory over Sheffield United at Anfield on Thursday night.

Darwin Nunez gave the Reds an early lead when Ivo Grbic’s attempted clearance from a backpass crashed into him and spun over the line with 17 minutes on the clock.

The hosts dominated possession, but were pegged back when Gustavo Hamer headed a cross against Conor Bradley and into the back of the net shortly after the break.

Nevertheless, fears of points being dropped were allayed when Alexis Mac Allister thumped Liverpool back in front with 13 minutes of normal time remaining after a clearance had been deflected into his path on the edge of the box.

Cody Gakpo put the seal on the victory when he headed in an Andy Robertson cross from 15 yards out in the 90th minute as the Reds regained top spot in the standings, two points ahead of Arsenal.

Team news

Liverpool made two changes from Sunday’s success over Brighton & Hove Albion as Ryan Gravenberch and Ibrahima Konate came into the XI in place of Wataru Endo and Jarell Quansah.

Curtis Jones returned to the matchday squad after recovering from injury with a place among the substitutes.

Liverpool: Kelleher, Gomez (Gakpo, 72), Van Dijk, Konate, Diaz, Szoboszlai (Jones, 72), Nunez, Mac Allister, Salah (Robertson, 60), Gravenberch (Elliott, 60), Bradley.

Unused subs: Adrian, Tsimikas, Clark, Danns, Quansah.

  • Download the official teamsheet here

First half

Liverpool kicked off during an Anfield downpour aiming to move back to the Premier League summit – but they almost found themselves behind after just 32 seconds of play.

A long throw into the danger zone from the left was flicked towards the back post, where James McAtee arrived unmarked inside the six-yard box. His instant side-footer was repelled by the boot of Caoimhin Kelleher, however.

From the resulting corner, Ben Brereton Diaz came close to turning in from close range but was unable to apply the finishing touch as the Reds survived the early scare.

The hosts’ first threat arrived soon after. Grbic clawed away a Joe Gomez centre under pressure from Bradley. Mohamed Salah collected the loose ball and attempted to guide it in the net, but Sheffield United’s goalkeeper managed to tip over.

Nunez then headed wide before Salah flashed another effort off target as Liverpool began to assert themselves on the contest.

The breakthrough would eventually arrive on 17 minutes in somewhat unusual circumstances. Nunez charged down Grbic as he attempted to clear upfield from a backpass; however, the ’keeper crashed the ball against the No.9, resulting in it spinning back towards goal and over the line.

The Uruguay forward was causing panic in the visiting defence again moments later, this time bounding his way beyond a series of yellow shirts before seeing a low shot claimed by Grbic.

On 34 minutes, Mac Allister sent a curler from just outside the area sailing a yard wide of the post, while Gravenberch’s spin-and-shot after stellar play from Luis Diaz was easily claimed by Grbic.

Then, two minutes before the interval, Dominik Szoboszlai’s stinging shift-and-strike was pushed around the post by the Blades’ No.13 before Diaz fizzed a low drive off target.

Nevertheless, deep into first-half stoppage time, Kelleher was required to keep out a powerful angled blast from Jayden Bogle to ensure the home team’s lead was intact heading into the interval.

Second half

The opening exchanges of the second period saw the sides trade chances in quick succession as Salah had a snap-shot grasped by Grbic, while Kelleher kept out a free-kick from Hamer.

But Sheffield United drew level when Hamer’s attempted header back across goal from McAtee’s deep cross deflected off Bradley and diverted beyond Kelleher on 59 minutes.

Liverpool’s response saw a Virgil van Dijk header from a corner kept out by Grbic on his line.

A series of substitutions followed for the home team – and it was two of those who combined for the next chance, when Robertson hammered a deep Harvey Elliott cross wide of the near post.

With time ticking away, the Reds regained the lead in spectacular fashion courtesy of another Mac Allister special.

The No.10 sent a first-time swerving shot right into the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard box after Sheffield United’s attempted clearance from a Robertson cross deflected into his path.

Mac Allister went close again when he cannoned a free-kick from 25 yards against the frame of the goal, with Grbic firmly beaten.

A third duly did arrive in the 90th minute as Robertson’s delivery from deep on the left was glanced in by the head of Gakpo in front of the penalty spot, ensuring a return to first place in the table for Jürgen Klopp’s side, with eight games remaining.

Attendance: 60,055



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