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Liverpool overcome Luton scare to go four points clear

Liverpool reasserted their control on the Premier League title race by overcoming a first-half scare to beat Luton 4-1 at Anfield.

Luton led through Chiedozie Ogbene after 12 minutes, as two early missed chances by Luis Diaz only served to highlight the absences of Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota for Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk’s headed equaliser from a corner turned the game for Liverpool 11 minutes after the restart, with Cody Gakpo nodding in two minutes later to put Liverpool in control.

Ogbene heads in at the back post to put Luton ahead at Anfield
Image: Chiedozie Ogbene headed in at the back post to put Luton ahead at Anfield

Diaz scored a third with less than 20 minutes to go, before Harvey Elliott added another at the death to send Liverpool four points clear of second-placed Man City, having played a game more.

Luton, who held their own for the best part of an hour, suffer a third consecutive defeat and stay in the relegation zone due to Everton’s far superior goal difference.

How Liverpool recovered to go four points clear

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Luton Town, at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Image: Liverpool responded to Man City’s win over Brentford

Liverpool needed a fast start to put the crowd at ease with Man City hot on their heels after Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Brentford, but early missed chances by Diaz set a nervous tone at Anfield.

A ball over the top from Caoihmin Kelleher, standing in for the injured Allison in goal, put the forward through but his miscontrol saw the opening vanish and moments later he fired wide with his left foot in the box.

Luton punished Liverpool’s uncharacteristic wastefulness as Ogbene headed in at the back post after Kelleher saved Tahith Chong’s shot with his legs and the ball sat up for the winger to score his third league goal of the season.

Diaz had six shots in the first 35 minutes, hitting the target once, as he registered an Expected Goals tally of 0.67, compared to Luton’s 0.68 in the same period. Groans could be heard from the stands, which appeared to rile up Klopp on the touchline.

Luton took chances at the back in their build-up but Liverpool failed to capitalise and had little luck from set pieces either, unable to convert from their seven first-half corners.

The tide turned for Liverpool, ironically, from a corner as Van Dijk rose highest to meet Alexis Mac Allister’s delivery to level the score in front of the Kop. Barely had the supporters sat down before they were on their feet to celebrate another.

Connor Bradley took advantage of a Luton change as his quick throw found Mac Allister in space down the right and the midfielder picked out Gakpo this time, who nodded in 125 seconds later.

Luton kept fighting but there was an inevitability to Liverpool after they took the lead which helped settle Diaz’s nerves. He kept his nerve after being played in by substitute Andrew Robertson to finish cooly with his left.

The visitors suffered a further blow when Alfie Doughty pulled up injured soon after Liverpool’s third. Issa Kabore was brought on to replace him.

In the final minute of normal time, Elliott marked his 100th appearance for the club with a goal to put Anfield in a jubilant mood ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wembley. The victory ensured Liverpool will remain top until they return to league action.

What’s next?

Liverpool take on Chelsea on the Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm), while Luton host Man City in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday February 27 (kick-off 8pm).

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source