Sadio Mane soaring to new heights as Liverpool beat Leicester 2-1 in dramatic style

Alam Khan - Reporter 20:29 05/10/2019
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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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