Liverpool ended their dismal run of Premier League defeats as Curtis Jones and Kean Bryan’s own goal secured a much-needed 2-0 victory over Sheffield United.
Jurgen Klopp’s side went to Bramall Lane on the back of four successive top-flight losses, but finally got back to winning ways on Sunday.
With Aaron Ramsdale in superb form, Chris Wilder’s strugglers switched off shortly after the interval when Trent Alexander-Arnold got to the byline, and Jones profited to become Liverpool’s youngest Premier League goalscorer away from home since Raheem Sterling in December 2014.
Oli McBurnie spurned a golden chance to haul United level and was duly punished – Bryan diverting Roberto Firmino’s effort over Ramsdale to send the points back to Merseyside.
Liverpool were behind inside three minutes in the Merseyside derby and would have been a goal down early on this time out if not for Adrian’s save from David McGoldrick’s header.
McGoldrick called Adrian into action again with a low strike in the 17th minute, though it came after Ramsdale spread himself to deny Firmino.
Ramsdale came to United’s rescue twice in quick succession around the half-hour mark, first denying Mohamed Salah before he parried Alexander-Arnold’s effort over, though Ozan Kabak got lucky when he turned into Liverpool’s net, only for McBurnie to be flagged offside.
Georginio Wijnaldum was the next to test Ramsdale, with Firmino failing to convert the rebound.
Yet Ramsdale was beaten three minutes after the restart, Alexander-Arnold just managing to scoop in a cross which deflected to Jones, who slammed home.
20 – Aged 20 years and 29 days, Curtis Jones is the youngest Liverpool player to score away from Anfield in the Premier League since Raheem Sterling against Burnley in December 2014 (20y 18d). Breakthrough. pic.twitter.com/T7AvxhaJPZ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 28, 2021
Sadio Mane swept in from Andrew Robertson’s incisive pass soon after, though he was offside.
McBurnie should have restored parity before the hour, yet inexplicably directed a free header wide.
United were made to pay when Firmino was given far too much time and space in the box to get off a shot that spun into the net via Bryan and condemned the Blades to a 21st defeat in 26 league matches.
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Stopping the rot was all that mattered for Liverpool, who have moved onto 43 points – three clear of seventh-placed Everton, one behind fifth-placed Chelsea and two adrift of West Ham, who occupy fourth.
However, the Reds have have scored just one first-half goal in their last 11 Premier League games, and that profligacy could have cost them again. Ultimately, Jones’ composure and a stroke of luck brought them victory, as well as seeing Liverpool hit the 7,000 landmark in terms of top-flight goals. Only Everton have scored more (7,108).
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Alexander-Arnold had 22 more touches than any other player in the first half, though his endeavour down the right did not pay off until he stayed alert to keep the ball in play and hook in the cross for Jones’ opener.
The England full-back crafted a game-high three opportunities, while his tally of three attempts was bettered only by fellow scouser Jones (four). On the opposite flank, Robertson resembled something akin to his best, creating two chances – the latter of which was missed by Salah from six yards out late on.
Toothless Blades going down with a whimper
Ramsdale pulled off five saves in the first half; the most he has ever made in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game. Yet the Blades, who are six points adrift at the bottom, had little to offer up front.
The hosts managed only one attempt on target, with McBurnie’s poor header and a miss from Oliver Burke an example of where United have fallen short this term. Rhian Brewster – a big-money signing from Liverpool last year – was not even called upon from the bench.
Klopp goes up against the man who succeeded him at Borussia Dortmund when Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea visit Anfield on Thursday, while the Blades host Aston Villa a day earlier.