Jurgen Klopp said he will “never compare” himself to former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly after his side beat Bournemouth to take another major step towards a first league title in 30 years.
The victory was Liverpool’s 22nd successive Premier League win at Anfield, breaking the English top-flight record set by Shankly’s team in 1972.
“We didn’t think about that number before the game, but after we can,” said Klopp. “It’s nice, it’s special, but today is a very good example that we have to fight.”
The hosts fell behind in controversial circumstances, Callum Wilson slotting home Jefferson Lerma’s low cross after appearing to shove Joe Gomez in the build-up to the goal.
Liverpool soon hit their stride, however, and Mohamed Salah – making his 100th league appearance for the club – restored parity with a low finish after Sadio Mane dispossessed Jack Simpson deep inside the Cherries’ half.
Mane latched on to Virgil van Dijk’s perfectly weighted through-ball to complete the turnaround, but Liverpool needed a brilliant goal-line clearance from James Milner to prevent Ryan Fraser from hauling Bournemouth back on level terms in a nervy second half.
“We’re not geniuses, but we can really fight and that’s all we have to do until the end of the season,” said Klopp, who confirmed captain Jordan Henderson – missing with a hamstring injury – is likely to resume full training on Sunday before the Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Atletico Madrid.
“I think he will train tomorrow. If that looks good, I have to make a decision.”
The win means Liverpool could be champions by the time they play Everton in the league on 16 March – if Manchester City lose their next three games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Burnley.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side remain in the relegation zone, level on points with Watford and West Ham but with a worse goal difference than their nearest rivals at the bottom.
Reds back to winning ways – just
Klopp spoke before the game about “getting back on track immediately” after watching his side slip to consecutive defeats in the league and FA Cup.
They made the worst possible start, however, as Bournemouth capitalised on the Reds’ early nerves to take a shock lead – albeit in controversial fashion.
Wilson finished off a neat move involving Lerma and Philip Billing, but Liverpool felt the goal should have been disallowed for the striker’s push on Gomez. The video assistant referee saw no infringement and the goal was given.
Things could have got worse for Liverpool when Nathan Ake’s powerful header was unconvincingly shovelled on to the top of the crossbar by stand-in goalkeeper Adrian, although they continued to create chances and deservedly restored parity through Salah’s low finish – his 70th league goal for the club.
If Bournemouth fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Mane scored with a delightful dink over Aaron Ramsdale 12 minutes before half-time, Liverpool failed to carry that momentum into the second half.
Chances were few and far between until Ryan Fraser spotted Adrian off his line, with the retreating Milner producing an outstanding clearance, while Mane’s 25-yard strike cannoned back off the bar.
Individual errors cost Bournemouth
Having seen his side taken a deserved early lead, Howe will be bitterly disappointed with the manner of Liverpool’s two first-half goals.
Simpson, who replaced the injured Steve Cook after 19 minutes, was easily dispossessed by Mane in the build-up to Salah’s equaliser, before another sloppy pass allowed Van Dijk to tee up the Senegal forward for Liverpool’s second.
There were positives for Bournemouth, who caused Liverpool problems and were only denied a share of the spoils by Milner’s superb clearance from Fraser’s looping effort.
Ake spurned an opportunity to equalise in the 90th minute when he opted to pass to the offside Wilson with only Adrian to beat.
However, Bournemouth will need to cut out individual mistakes if they are to prolong their five-year stay in the Premier League.
“The two goals come from us having possession and they punished us on the transition,” Howe said. “It was a ruthless game for us today because I don’t think we did much wrong.”
With games against Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester coming up, Bournemouth will be desperate to claim maximum points at home to Crystal Palace in their next league match.
Man of the match – Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Reds stretch unbeaten Anfield run – the stats
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their past 55 league matches at Anfield (W45 D10). Only Chelsea between 2004-2008 (86 games) have had a longer unbeaten run at home in Premier League history.
- Since the start of last season, Bournemouth have lost more Premier League away games than any other side (24).
- Bournemouth have lost all eight of their Premier League matches against teams starting the day in first place by an aggregate score of 27-4.
- Mohamed Salah is the first Liverpool player to score 20 goals in all competitions in three consecutive seasons since Michael Owen in 2000-01 and 2002-03.
- Salah has scored 70 goals in 100 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, seven more than any other player in their first 100 for the club (Fernando Torres 63). Only Alan Shearer with Blackburn (79) has scored more goals in his first 100 Premier League appearances for a club in the competition’s history.
- Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has had a hand in six goals in his past four Premier League starts against Bournemouth (4 goals, 2 assists).
- Callum Wilson’s opener was the first Premier League goal Bournemouth have scored against Liverpool since April 2017 (Josh King), ending a run of 17 consecutive goals scored by the Reds in this fixture.
‘We have to give everyone a proper fight’ – what the managers said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BBC Sport: “I know what the boys are able to do, but I am not the one that is playing – they are. We have said before, confidence is not something that you get, put in your pocket and keep for the rest of your life. It comes and goes. You need that feeling where things work out.
“You have to fight hard – that’s always the main thing to do – but we have 82 points now, which is really nice. We have to carry on fighting, give everyone a proper fight – and that’s what we did today.”
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, speaking to BBC Sport: “We gave it a go. We started really well and looked a threat on the counter-attack. Their two goals came from the transition. They punished us when it counted.
“We made a mistake for the first goal, and the second was similar – we had the ball, seconds later we are conceding. We gave everything to it but came away with nothing.
“Losing Steve Cook was a big moment, and Phil [Billing] couldn’t really move at the end. We couldn’t have a full assault at them.”
Liverpool host Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday (20:00 GMT) before travelling to Everton in the Merseyside derby on 16 March (20:00).
Bournemouth welcome Crystal Palace to the Vitality Stadium in their next league match on 14 March (15:00).