Diogo Jota heads Liverpool ahead against Sheffield United
Liverpool had not gone three consecutive league games without winning since May 2018

Defending champions Liverpool returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a hard-fought comeback victory over struggling Sheffield United at Anfield.

Deputising at centre-back for the injured Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool midfielder Fabinho conceded a 13th-minute penalty for a foul on Oliver McBurnie on the very edge of the box, allowing Sander Berge to slot in following a video assistant referee review.

Despite Liverpool facing spirited opposition, Roberto Firmino converted from Sadio Mane’s saved shot four minutes before half-time and Diogo Jota’s header completed the turnaround midway through the second half.

After two league games without victory, including their astonishing 7-2 defeat by Aston Villa, Jurgen Klopp’s side moved joint top of the table alongside Merseyside rivals Everton, who face Southampton on Sunday at 14:00 GMT.

Jota’s decisive goal arrived two minutes after Mohamed Salah’s fine finish from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross was ruled out by VAR for offside, while Salah was denied by the woodwork late on.

John Egan’s sliding intervention had prevented Salah from putting Liverpool ahead inside the first minute, while Alexander-Arnold’s ambitious free-kick from the halfway line forced Aaron Ramsdale to tip over as the Blades endured early pressure.

United remain winless and with a single point after six games, but they offered manager Chris Wilder plenty of encouragement and were denied a 2-0 lead when returning Liverpool keeper Alisson pushed away Ben Osborn’s excellent volley.

Reds find way to win despite Van Dijk’s absence

The potentially season-ending knee injury suffered by Van Dijk in the Merseyside derby is a seismic blow for Liverpool as they aim to defend their crown this season, but Klopp will have taken much comfort from Fabinho’s near-faultless performance in the 1-0 midweek victory over Ajax in the Champions League.

Lining up without their Dutch centre-back for the first time in 75 league games, Fabinho once again partnered Joe Gomez in defence, although the Brazil international was at fault as he lunged in to a tackle on McBurnie.

Forced to play catch-up despite their early chances, the Reds wrestled parity through Firmino’s instinctive finish and the lively Salah almost completed a rapid turnaround before the break when ran the ball too close too Ramsdale.

Despite the return of Alisson, out since September with injury, there were moments of uncertainty at the back as Liverpool allowed United 13 shots at goal, but their own quality in attack ultimately told.

Jota, quiet in front of goal for much of the contest, claimed the points with his first shot of the match, a header beyond Ramsdale’s reach, to extend Liverpool’s impressive unbeaten home record to 62 league games.

More to follow.

Player of the match

Diogo JotaDiogo Jota

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 3Fabinho
  • 12Gomez
  • 26Robertson
  • 14Henderson
  • 5Wijnaldum
  • 20JotaSubstituted forMilnerat 83′minutes
  • 9FirminoSubstituted forMinaminoat 83′minutes
  • 10Mané
  • 11Salah

Substitutes

  • 7Milner
  • 13Adrián
  • 17Jones
  • 18Minamino
  • 23Shaqiri
  • 47Phillips
  • 76N Williams

Sheff Utd

  • 1Ramsdale
  • 6Basham
  • 12Egan
  • 3StevensBooked at 66mins
  • 2Baldock
  • 8BergeBooked at 86mins
  • 22Ampadu
  • 7LundstramBooked at 3minsSubstituted forMcGoldrickat 76′minutes
  • 23Osborn
  • 9McBurnie
  • 24BrewsterSubstituted forBurkeat 54′minutes

Substitutes

  • 10Sharp
  • 14Burke
  • 15Jagielka
  • 16Norwood
  • 17McGoldrick
  • 19Robinson
  • 21Verrips

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