Sadio Mane enjoyed a double milestone in his Liverpool career as he inspired them to a dramatic 17th successive Premier League victory.
The Senegal striker marked his 100th league appearance for the club with his 50th goal – and was then brought down for an injury-time penalty that James Milner put away for the winner.
Until then, the Reds had been largely frustrated by Leicester as former boss Brendan Rodgers looked to mastermind an upset on his return to Anfield.
He was given warm applause by the Liverpool fans, but his side left with nothing to show for their efforts.
Mane’s 40th-minute opener saw Milner send an inch-perfect long ball behind Jonny Evans and there was the forward to race clear and calmly finish past Kasper Schmeichel.
As the hosts failed to take chances, including one for Andy Robertson that he thumped at Schmeichel, the Foxes levelled in the 80th minute when Ayoze Perez found James Maddison and he fired past Adrian.
But they were denied a battling point when Marc Albrighton failed to clear and caught Mane. Milner stepped up for the spot-kick to maintain their 100 per cent start and extend their lead over Manchester City to eight points.
With Mo Salah hurt and taken off after a shocking late challenge by Hamza Choudhury, the game was soured too by a post-match bust-up involving Perez.
LESSONS LEARNED AS LEADERS SHOW QUALITY
It was this corresponding fixture last January that shaped the outcome of the Premier League title race. Liverpool slipped up with a 1-1 draw and allowed Manchester City to gain momentum for the comeback that eventually crowned them champions.
This encounter was an example of how Jurgen Klopp’s men have grown and learned from the harsh lessons of the past. The Foxes offered similar resistance, levelled with a good goal to cause anxiety in the Anfield cauldron.
But Liverpool showed greater patience and focus to claim a crucial victory on this occasion. Their Champions League success has given them the platform and belief to have faith in their ability – and to show no fear, no panic even when the situation looks desperate.
The best in Europe are now showing all the attributes needed to be the best in the Premier League.
MANE TAKING HIS GAME TO GREATER HEIGHTS
With the game goalless, Ben Chilwell raced down the left in space and there was concern among the Anfield faithful over a Leicester opportunity when out stretched the leg of Mane to leave the left-back in a crumpled heap.
It was a perfect tackle. But it was not the only time he did it and the perfect example of how Mane has developed his game to become a better all-round player. He was more defensive than offensive for the first half, bar the final five minutes when he scored the opener and then fired a chance at Schmeichel.
His work ethic to help out his backline was incredible and, allied to his appetite to cause destruction at the other end such as the key role in the penalty winner, his stock is rising more and more. Mane is fast becoming the fans’ favourite at Anfield and this display emphasises why.
TURKISH DELIGHT FOR THE FOXES
Given it was only his 12th league start, this was another indication of the impressive progress made by Caglar Soyuncu in the Leicester defence.
It was a mixed bag from the Turkish international early on. Careless passes, that put his team-mates under unnecessary pressure, combined with good positioning and quick feet to get himself out of trouble as the hosts pressed.
His decision making needs work, but he was robust and resilient throughout. What was also noticeable is how vocal the 23-year-old was, despite it being only his second season following the £19m move from German side Freiburg.
Harry Maguire was a commanding figure for the Foxes, but was shaped into the player he eventually became.
Leicester look like they have another rough diamond on their hands – and, as a mark of Soyuncu’s performance, Maguire was not missed.
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English Premier League leaders Liverpool welcome Leicester City to Anfield on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp hopes his Leicester counterpart Brendan Rodgers receives a suitable reception, after almost winning the league with the Reds in 2014.
As for Klopp – he’ll be saying hello to his landlord.
“We love living there (in Rodgers’ property) and it’s all good. So we play all full rent for him. So I am not sure he has to work. but obviously he is still doing it,” said Klopp, whose side will be hoping to continue their perfect Premier League record so far this season with six wins out of six already.
“And he is doing really well there. I am not surprised about that. I knew it when I came here (to Liverpool) that he was not the reason that things didn’t work out.
“And since then he did an incredible job at Celtic, obviously, and now at Leicester.”
Watch what Klopp had to say in the video above.
Liverpool’s second-half implosion was remedied by Mohamed Salah’s winner as the Reds went from cruising to losing in a madcap game against Red Bull Salzburg.
Strikes from Andy Robertson, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah had put the hosts 3-0 up by half-time, as they looked to forget their nightmare in Napoli two weeks prior.
But Salzburg roared back through Hwang Hee-Chan and Takumi Minamino either side of half-time, and teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland came off the bench to level things up on the hour mark to silence Anfield.
However, Liverpool can never be counted out thanks to their heavyweight ammunition and it was Salah who landed the killer blow with 20 minutes to go to end a breathless game 4-3.
Here are our Liverpool ratings …
Adrian – Not at fault for the goals, a nervy moment when he lackadaisically passed out from the back and was nearly caught in possession. 5
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Much of Liverpool’s attacking play funnels through their full-backs and with 125 touches, Trent was the fulcrum. A couple of key defensive stops and another assist under his belt. 7
Joe Gomez – All over the shop. Drawn out of position for Salzburg’s first and flew recklessly into a challenge for the second. Then was nowhere near the cross that Haaland tapped in. Where is his pre-injury form? 3
Virgil Van Dijk – Looked bemused by his junior partner but has to take his fair share of the blame. Far too easily turned for Hwang’s goal – was probably wishing for the injured Joel Matip to materialise out of thin air. 4
Andy Robertson – You won’t see a left-back anywhere in the world making the type of instinctive run in the box that Robertson initiated for Liverpool’s superb second, combining with Alexander-Arnold. Was everywhere in attack, particularly in the first half. 8
Fabinho – Beautiful long ball presented Salah with a first-half chance the Egyptian really should have scored, but his harrying led to Mo’s eventual winner. A good game despite the eventual pandemonium. 7
Giorginio Wijnaldum – Bypassed continuously as Salzburg waltzed through Liverpool’s midfield at will in the second half. Substituted for Divock Origi 5
Jordan Henderson – His inaction in comparison to Fabinho was acute. Chasing shadows and was hauled straight off for James Milner after Haaland’s equaliser. 4
Sadio Mane – There’s magic in those feet of his. Operating on hyper-speed, with Firmino on the same wavelength, in the one-two that brought about his goal. Dangerous throughout 8
Roberto Firmino – Another ‘low-key’ special game from the Brazilian, his two assists for Mane and then Salah’s second proving once again that the Reds would find it hard to function without him. 8
Mohamed Salah – He scored the double – and the all-important winner – but he was clearly a notch or two below the impeccable standards Mane and Firmino were setting. Nicely taken goals, though could have had several more if not for wayward finishing. 7
James Milner (61′) – Liverpool were noticeably much steadier when the veteran midfielder came on 7
Divock Origi (63′) – Was thrown on as things got desperate, but an intervention wasn’t required from him in the end 5
Naby Keita – (90′) – N/A