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Liverpool moves 25 points clear with win over Bournemouth

Liverpool moves 25 points clear with win over Bournemouth
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The trademark celebration was back, and repeatedly, with added gusto. Such exuberance might seem surprising for the manager of a Liverpool side now 25 points in front at the top of the Premier League.

But when the pursuit of an invincible league season was so unexpectedly ended with its first loss, at Watford last Saturday, before being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea, Klopp had good reason to be relieved.

Especially when Liverpool had to come from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 on Saturday, with Sadio Mane setting up Mohamed Salah’s equalizer before grabbing the winner himself.

Relief, too, that games are still being played — and with fans — as the new coronavirus disrupts sports across the world.

The Premier League continued as planned on Saturday, including Arsenal beating West Ham 1-0 and Tottenham being held 1-1 at Burnley, albeit with a new league edict on reducing body contact coming into effect.

Fears over the spread of the COVID-19 disease, though, led to Liverpool players having to file past their awkwardly static Bournemouth counterparts rather than shaking hands pre-match. In the Anfield stands, a few fans were wearing masks.

The quicker Liverpool wraps up the title, to end a 30-year drought, the greater the prospect of their fans actually being able to join in the celebrations before they could be shut out of stadiums on government orders.

This victory keeps Liverpool on track to be the earliest winners yet, potentially with six games to spare, by winning at defending champion Manchester City on April 5.

Before then, on Wednesday, there is a Champions League defence to recover after losing the round-of-16 first leg 1-0 at Atletico Madrid.

“There’s nothing good in losing football games but it makes you aware of how special it is to win football games,” Klopp said. “That’s what we had in the last 10 days or two weeks when we lost games. So you appreciate it much more.

“Imagine we would have won against Watford, won in the FA Cup, won against Atletico and, in the end you become champion whenever it would happen, and everybody would have said, ‘Yeah, champion.’ If it will happen, it will feel really special. If it will happen.”

Klopp won’t jinx it yet.

The German saw his team concede for a fifth consecutive game after nine minutes when Callum Wilson beat the offside trap to meet Jefferson Lerma’s cross.

A defensive lapse gifted Liverpool an equalizer in the 25th.

Mane dispossessed Jack Simpson, who had replaced injured Bournemouth captain Steve Cook, and fed Salah to take his tally to 20 goals for a third consecutive season.
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