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Liverpool dig deep to show they're on pace in title race, Premier League's latest ever goal in 103rd minute forces draw

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21st January, 2024
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Liverpool appear to have the squad depth to last the pace in an exciting Premier League title race.

Shorn of Mohamed Salah — away at the Africa Cup of Nations — as well as creative midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai and most of their first-choice defence, the leaders comfortably stymied the threat of in-form Bournemouth in a 4-0 away win on Monday (AEDT).

Liverpool regained their five-point lead over a trio of chasers — including defending champions Manchester City, who have a game in hand — and extended their unbeaten run in the league to 14 matches.

Indeed, the Reds’ only league loss this season remains the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham in September that was filled with refereeing controversies.

Juergen Klopp’s rebuild after an off-season overhaul could hardly be going any better, with Liverpool on top of the league, looking well set to reach the League Cup final, and still in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Diogo Jota, typically Liverpool’s back-up striker, inspired the team’s latest win by scoring twice after laying on the opener for Darwin Nunez — the Uruguay striker’s 100th senior goal for club and country.

Nunez added another in added time to wrap up the surprisingly heavy victory against opponents who’d won seven of their previous nine games.

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“We had the opposite of a good start,” said Klopp. “We put ourselves under pressure. It’s about winning the game in the end and, as long as you stay in the game, pretty much anything that happens in the game is allowed.

“Today, step by step, we found a way in the game and won it.”

There was a composed league debut for 20-year-old right back Conor Bradley, a brilliant display by Ibrahima Konate at centre back and even the sight of Joe Gomez — covering at right and left back for injured Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson — showing attacking flair to set up Nunez’s second with a fine cross.

Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are close to being back, according to Klopp, while Salah’s return from the Africa Cup depends how long Egypt stay alive in the competition.

In the day’s other match, the Premier League had never had a goal scored later than the penalty converted by Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie in the 103rd minute in the team’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United.

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The competition’s latest goal on record was previously a penalty, too, scored by Dirk Kuyt for Liverpool against Arsenal in 2011. That was timed at 101 minutes and 48 seconds. McBurnie’s was scored 19 seconds later.

It capped a wild period of added time that also included red cards for the Blades’ Rhian Brewster and the Hammers’ Vladimir Coufal.

But the biggest drama arrived when West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola came out to punch clear a cross, only to make contact with McBurnie.

Areola wasn’t allowed to be in goal for the penalty because he needed to come off after receiving treatment after the foul.

Lukasz Fabianski entered as a replacement and his first task was to retrieve the ball from the net. The visitors went ahead at Bramall Lane, first through Maxwel Cornet in the 28th and then James Ward-Prowse from the spot in the 79th.

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Ben Brereton Diaz, on loan from Villarreal, scored Sheffield United’s initial equaliser on his Premier League debut.

© AAP

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