Liverpool had to dig deep for a 3-1 victory against lowly Norwich City with goals by Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz securing the points after the visitors had threatened to pull off a massive shock at Anfield on Saturday (Feb 19).
In the end it looked relatively comfortable for Juergen Klopp’s side as they reduced Premier League leaders Manchester City’s lead to six points – for a few hours at least.
But when Milot Rashica’s shot deflected off of Joel Matip to give Norwich the lead just after the break, Liverpool’s hopes of putting some pressure on City looked in peril.
They were eventually rewarded for their intense pressure when Mane’s overhead kick levelled it up in the 64th minute and less than three minutes later Salah made it 2-1 after latching onto a long clearance by keeper Alisson.
Diaz calmed Liverpool’s nerves with a delightful finish in the 81st minute, finally flooring a courageous Norwich side.
Liverpool’s fifth successive league win, and eighth in all competitions, put them on 57 points from 25 games, with City, who host Tottenham Hotspur later, on 63.
For all their effort, defeat put Norwich back at the bottom of the table after wins for Burnley and Watford.
Dean Smith’s side have 17 points, five behind 17th-placed Newcastle United who have played a game less.
But what had looked on paper like a formality, was anything but as Norwich went toe-to-toe with Liverpool from the first whistle.
Liverpool almost took the lead when Angus Gunn reacted superbly to keep out Virgil van Dijk’s header.
But Norwich used the counter-attack to great effect and should have gone in front when Brandon Williams played in Teemu Pukki, who fired a golden chance wide.
Liverpool responded with a wave of attacks but could not crack Norwich’s rearguard in a frantic first half.
The visiting Norwich fans could hardly believe their eyes in the 48th minute when Rashica cut in from the left and his right-footed shot clipped Matip before looping past Alisson.
It produced a furious response from the hosts and the game was turned on its head when Konstantinos Tsimikas headed across goal towards Mane who acrobatically volleyed in.
Norwich went back on the attack but were caught out when Alisson launched a huge clearance and Salah found himself clear. The Egyptian turned cleverly and then struck a shot that wrong-footed Norwich’s covering defenders.
It was his 150th goal in all competitions and Diaz, signed from Porto last month, then opened his Liverpool account with a dinked finish from Jordan Henderson’s defence-splitting pass.