The numbers keep on racking up for Liverpool. Twenty-five points clear at the top of the table, 76 points from a possible 78 this season and an unbeaten streak that runs for 43 matches, back to January 2019. Here, a 17th straight league victory was decided by Sadio Mané’s 100th goal in English football. That 19th league title just keeps getting closer.
While the big picture can sometimes seem boggling, the smaller details remain more readily comprehensible. This was another match in which the champions-elect had to graft, bide their time and enjoy some luck before earning a deserved victory.
Norwich played their football, as they always do, and had chances which they squandered, as they often do too. They were also disciplined and resolute in their defending and, as the contest reached the final stages, a draw looked a realistic possibility. But then Liverpool found a way.
It came from a long ball, sent forward by Jordan Henderson in the 78th minute. Mané was standing between two Norwich players on the edge of their box and one of them, Christoph Zimmermann, got up early to meet the ball. The German missed it, however, perhaps aided in part by a push from the Liverpool forward. But before anyone had a chance to even cry foul play Mané had taken the ball under control, spun and shot low, left-footed inside Tim Krul’s right-hand post.
“I have many compliments for my lads for this performance,” said the Norwich manager, Daniel Farke. “For the performance, the workload and the tactical discipline. But then because of this one moment of magic from Mané I have to accept this loss. I don’t complain [about the push] because I have learned from this season that VAR never works in our favour. There is a push and if the referee had given a free-kick it would not have been overturned. But he allowed the goal and it’s not a clear and obvious mistake.