Reds keep their first clean sheet in seven outings during a comfortable evening in West Yorkshire…
The visitors bossed the encounter from start to finish in a surprisingly easy night’s work against a negative Terriers side who are quickly becoming embroiled in a relegation fight.
Both bosses sprung surprises at the back prior to kick-off with David Wagner fielding a three-man central defence and good friend Jürgen Klopp dropping record signing Virgil van Dijk.
The opening stages were largely cagey, although the visitors looked to be in on goal inside three minutes until Sadio Mané miss-controlled and Roberto Firmino tamely hit the follow-up straight at Jonas Lössl.
There wasn’t much else in the way of goalmouth action until the 16th minute when Laurent Depoitre forced Loris Karius into a good stop following a dangerous Chris Löwe cross.
Liverpool were having lots of possession in good areas as the half progressed but bar an Emre Can effort from the edge of the area, Lössl remained largely untroubled.
The strike proved to be an excellent range-finder for the German midfielder though as he broke the deadlock in the 26th minute, albeit with the aid of a deflection off Philip Billing.
Sadly for the neutral, falling behind didn’t change Huddersfield’s lethargic approach to the game and Liverpool increasingly began to dictate proceedings with ease.
The Terriers, cheered on by a boisterous John Smith’s Stadium throughout, did briefly threaten with a Löwe free-kick in the 40th minute but they found themselves trailing 2-0 at half-time when Firmino, aided by a neat flick-on by Mané, was allowed to squeeze home from a seemingly impossible angle.
The interval also did nothing to alter the one-sided nature of the game as the hosts continued to stand off the men in red, allowing Liverpool’s players unprecedented amounts of time and space – so much so that at times the ‘contest’ resembled a training game.
Mané and James Milner both forced early saves from Lössl before the former headed an excellent Can delivery wide.
Huddersfield finally showed some ambition around the 70th minute mark, causing the odd moment of concern in a Reds rearguard that has struggled of late.
Salah should have made the game safe after rounding Lössl but the Egyptian could only find the side-netting after opting to use the outside of his stronger left-foot rather than passing the ball into the net with his right.
Liverpool’s top-scorer quickly atoned for the miss though with a 78th minute spot-kick after Billing had clumsily bundled into the back of Can.
Remarkably the goal was his 19th in the Premier League this term, which is the same amount as Huddersfield have managed collectively.
Substitute, and former Kop winger, Tom Ince looked lively in the closing stages and a couple of long throws threatened a consolation but they ultimately, and deservedly, came to nothing.
Evaluating the encounter at his post-match press conference, Klopp remarked: “It was not the best game we played so far, but it was very mature. And, in the end, very deserved.
“The best thing we did tonight apart from scoring was our counter-pressing and how we defended situations when Huddersfield won the ball deep.
“It can always get immediately uncomfortable when they play the first pass, second pass and you’re a little bit too late. We had this one or two times because it’s normal. But very often we were really right, and that cuts confidence – you want to do something and you can.
“They were quite compact and not too easy to play around, but we had a few fantastic situations. Pretty early in the game, Andrew Robertson was in behind; Mo Salah pretty much alone; a similar situation for Sadio twice, one time alone with a header. We had more moments than three goals.
“But it was difficult to play because they defended well. I’m happy about the result, 100 per cent, and most parts of the performance as well.”
With Arsenal losing at Swansea on the same night and Tottenham Hotspur facing Manchester United on Wednesday, the latest round of Premier League fixtures could prove pivotal in the race for a top four finish.
The three points move Liverpool, who remain fourth, onto 50 points, which is level with Chelsea (who host AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday), five ahead of Spurs and eight in front of the Gunners.
The Merseysiders face Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday.
So that’s what both we and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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