Klopp hails Mac Allister 'wonder goal' as Liverpool reclaim top spot in Premier League

Argentine's superb goal restored Liverpool's lead in 3-1 win over Sheffield United as Palmer hat-trick caps stunning Chelsea comeback against Manchester United

Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister, centre, is mobbed by teammates after his goal against Sheffield United restored the Reds' lead at Anfield. AFP
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Jurgen Klopp believes Alexis Mac Allister can have a big impact on Liverpool's title run-in after the midfielder's "wonder goal" inspired a tense 3-1 win against the Premier League's bottom club Sheffield United on Thursday.

Liverpool led through Darwin Nunez's early opener but were pegged back by a second-half Conor Bradley own goal.

But Mac Allister eased the nerves around Anfield with a brilliant finish from the edge of the area and Cody Gakpo sealed the points in the closing moments.

With Arsenal and Manchester City having both won on Wednesday, Thursday's game at Anfield felt pivotal in the title race. Victory took them two points clear of second-placed Arsenal and three above City with eight games left for each of the three teams involved in a gripping battle for supremacy.

Liverpool's win stretched their unbeaten run at Anfield to 28 matches, and took them a step closer to a record-equalling 20th English league title and first since 2020.

"We needed Macca's wonder goal to turn it around. The impact he can have is massive," Klopp said of Mac Allister, who is the first Liverpool midfielder to score or assist in six consecutive games since Steven Gerrard in 2013.

Liverpool are keen to give Klopp a winning send-off after the German announced in January he would step down at the end of the season. With the League Cup already secured, the Reds could end the season with three trophies as they have also reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

However, they will have to improve on this erratic display to make that treble dream a reality.

"Our general game until I think we made the changes was not great. That's what we have to admit," Klopp said.

"It's tricky, they had such a low block, but you have to do better.

"That's how it is. You have to change games from the bench when needed and so I'm really happy with that."

Liverpool head to Manchester United in the league on Sunday for a crucial clash with their bitter rivals.

The Reds had to come from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, but Klopp insisted he was feeling "calm" as the title race approaches a dramatic climax.

Sheffield United keeper Ivo Grbic handed Liverpool the lead in farcical fashion after 17 minutes.

Needlessly taking far too long to clear on the edge of his area, Grbic was charged down by Nunez, the ball hitting the Uruguay striker on the backside as it rolled into the empty net.

Joe Gomez, Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Luis Diaz all went close from long-range as Liverpool threatened to deliver the knockout blow.

Bottom-of-the-table United have won just three times during a dismal league campaign that looks certain to end with relegation.

Yet they rocked Anfield to its foundations in the 58th minute.

Gustavo Hamer's superb pass picked out McAtee on the right flank and he cleverly cut back inside before whipping a cross into the area.

Hamer had carried on his burst forward and his close-range header beat Kelleher via a decisive deflection off Bradley's foot.

Klopp responded by surprisingly hauling off Mohamed Salah as Harvey Elliott came on for the Egypt forward, whose glum face and limp handshake with his manager betrayed his disappointment at the move.

But Klopp's angst was finally soothed in the 76th minute when Robertson's cross was only cleared to the edge of the area, where Mac Allister lashed a blistering strike into the top corner.

Gakpo put the seal on Liverpool's hard-fought victory in the 90th minute as he stooped to head in Robertson's cross.

Palmer shines in Chelsea win

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino hopes Thursday's 4-3 comeback win against Manchester United can be a turning point in the Blues' season.

Cole Palmer struck twice in stoppage time to complete a hat-trick and a stunning turnaround at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea trailed 3-2 with 20 minutes of the 90 remaining.

But Palmer ensured the points went to Chelsea after converting a penalty in the 110th minute and then firing a winner with a deflected effort from outside the box a minute later.

"It should be a turning point for the fans’ trust in the team,” Pochettino said.

A 12th league defeat of the season and will likely heap more pressure on manager Erik ten Hag ahead of Sunday's game against title-chasing Liverpool.

“We have to learn from it. When you are a Man United player you should already know how to deal with this circumstance,” Ten Hag said.

Chelsea had raced into a 2-0 lead through Conor Gallagher's effort from just inside the area in the fourth minute and Palmer's penalty in the 19th.

But United responded impressively with Alejandro Garnacho seizing on a mistake from Moises Caicedo to pull a goal back in the 34th minute.

Bruno Fernandes evened the score when he headed in Diogo Dalot's cross five minutes later.

United went ahead in the 67th minute through Garnacho, who headed past Djordje Petrovic after a wonderful cross from the outside of Antony's boot.

United looked comfortable with time running down until Dalot brought down Noni Madueke in the box and Palmer sparked late drama.

“It’s a massive momentum booster. It puts everyone in a good mood. Hopefully we can kick on,” Palmer said.

Updated: April 05, 2024, 5:33 AM