Liverpool picked up where they left off last decade, defeating Sheffield United 2-0 in a comfortable first fixture of 2020.
Any hopes that Sheffield United had of keeping it tight were quashed inside just four minutes, as Mohamed Salah slotted home Andy Robertson’s cross.
Virgil van Dijk’s excellent long pass found its way to the Scotsman courtesy of George Baldock’s unfortunate slip and he crossed for Salah to slot into the Blades’ net. Harsh on the United wing-back, but just the slice of luck Liverpool seem to be enjoying on this impressive run.
3 | GOALLLLLLL – early goal by Salah, ball from Virgil to Robertson who crosses to Salah to tap in. Good finish, great balls from both Virgil and Robertson. Must be said that a slip from Baldock set Robbo on his way – great team goal #LIVSHU
— The Kopite (@TheKopiteOFF) January 2, 2020
What an unfortunate slip from Baldock. 1-0 to Liverpool
— sm (@TacticoModerno) January 2, 2020
Mohamed Salah has now scored 10+ goals in each of his last five league seasons:
2015/16: 14 goals
2016/17: 15 goals
gbeng 2017/18: 32 goals
gbeng 2018/19: 22 goals
gbeng 2019/20: 10 goals*
One season after another. pic.twitter.com/6r9dUNyRSs
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 2, 2020
If you believe everything you read on Twitter, then Dean Henderson will be both England and Manchester United’s number one long before the end of the year.
The Blades’ goalkeeper was in excellent form in the first half, pulling off a remarkable save from Salah in the 11th minute. An instinctive flick towards goal from the Egyptian drew a reaction stop of the highest order.
Hopefully David de Gea and Jordan Pickford weren’t paying too much attention to Twitter on Thursday evening…
Nearly 2-0! Lovely flick from Salah and an even better save from Dean Henderson.
— Paul Gorst (@ptgorst) January 2, 2020
Dean Henderson is taking Pickford’s England jersey in March.
— Hippokloppamus (@Hippokloppamus) January 2, 2020
Dean Henderson will be first choice United goalkeeper next season
— جعفر – Jafar (@jafar_altaie) January 2, 2020
Another moment of brilliance came on the stroke of half time, as Lys Mousset broke away in the Liverpool half and seemed like he might motor all the way to the Reds’ penalty area.
Not on Virgil van Dijk’s watch! The Dutchman seemingly appeared out of nowhere and made a last-ditch tackle with the composure that surely no other defender could deliver right now. By the reaction of fans in the stands, those glancing away from their screens could have been forgiven for thinking there’d been another goal.
What a covering tackle that is from Van Dijk on Mousset. Outstanding. #LFC
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) January 2, 2020
Celebrated that Virgil van Dijk tackle. What a fella.
— Ben Webb (@BenWebbLFC) January 2, 2020
Van Dijk is so good no one even talks about him anymore. It’s normal for him to do that
— Waseeeem (@wxseem7) January 2, 2020
Liverpool almost took the lead in bizarre circumstances around the hour mark, as Salah chipped a ball towards Van Dijk in the box.
It sailed past the defender’s head, but somehow seemed to be left by everyone else in the Blades‘ penalty. Dean Henderson looked a relieved man when it bounced off the inside of the post and he scooped it up before it crossed the line.
Salah hits thet one in slow-mo and it comes off the post into the goalkeeper’s hands. Extraordinary stuff. Uri Geller would have been happy with that. #lfc
— The Anfield Beat (@theanfieldbeat) January 2, 2020
Weird moment that – Salah tries a cross – Virg leaves it, it bounces all the way through – everyone in the ground just watching it – hits the post and luckily for Dean Henderson – he catches it before it goes over the line.
— Stephen Drennan (@babuyagu) January 2, 2020
Minutes later Liverpool scored the second goal that their dominance deserved, with Sadio Mané rounding off a lightning-quick move that began with Alisson rolling the ball out from the Reds’ penalty area.
Cutting in from the left before exchanging with Salah, Mané drove into box and drew another good save from Henderson. However, the Senegalese was quick to his feet and tapped home to seal three points for the Premier League leaders – who are now 13 points clear at the top.
It was the least Mané deserved after another outstanding performance…
GOOOAALLL!! Brilliant counter attack and link-up play between Salah and Mane – Sadio’s first effort is saved but he smashes the follow-up home! GET IN THERE!
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 2, 2020
Sadio Mané’s game by numbers vs. Sheffield United:
86% pass accuracy
11 touches in opp. box
7 take-ons attempted
5 take-ons completed
3 shots on target
2 aerial duels won
1 chance created
Another amazing Anfield display. pic.twitter.com/OpR1ziGHDg
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 2, 2020