Mane keeps dreams of Liverpool title alive, but Fabinho’s injury leaves Klopp sweating before running

Match statistics: Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool

Dreams of a Liverpool title are still alive, but this may have been an expensive night for Jurgen Klopp.

The day that began with Sadio Mane connecting with leaving Anfield ended with the Senegalese star doing what he does best; making a difference in another big game for the Reds.

Mane’s winner in the second half, his 22nd goal of the season, ensured Liverpool to keep the heat at Manchester City at the top of the Premier League standings.

Their 2-1 win at Aston Villa doesn’t lead them above the reigning champions, but it keeps Pep Guardiola’s team fair. They go to the Wolves on Wednesday and West Ham on Sunday, knowing that any slip will leave them vulnerable in the final week of the campaign.

Liverpool had to do things the hard way at Villa Park, but recovered well from the shock by leaving the third-minute introduction to Douglas Luiz.

They were soon leveled thanks to Joel Matip and gradually took control, taking the lead when Mane adjusted brilliantly and hit Luis Diaz’s cross in the 65th minute.

That meant Klopp smiled at the last whistle, though there was great concern after Fabinho, one of his key men, was forced to leave within half an hour due to injury.

The Brazilian international seemed to feel a hamstring as he raced back towards his own goal after a loose touch in midfield. He has been replaced by Jordan Henderson and now, at the very least, there must be serious doubt about Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley.

That will surely worry Klopp, and even more so with the Champions League final on the horizon later this month.

Recall, Fabinho was signed immediately after Liverpool’s midfield received a detour from Real Madrid in Kiev in 2018, and with Luka Modric, Tony Kroos and Casemir still on the spot, Klopp will desperately want to be available in Paris on May 28 .

Fabinho injury Liverpool Aston Villa 2021-22

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At least the damage wasn’t greater, Liverpool coped well with the failure that night and then held on to the final stages while Villa looked to retaliate.

After the draw against Tottenham on Saturday, three points were all that mattered here to Klopp and his players.

They were, therefore, grateful to Mane, who led the line excellently all the time.

Liverpool celebrate Sadie Mane's goal at Aston Villa 2021-22

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With Mohamed Salah remaining on the bench, it was left to Mane, Diaz and Diogo Jota to bear the threat of the Reds, and all three combined to win the Liverpool; Jota releases Diaz down the left, Diaz chooses Mane for a perfectly guided goal in the left corner of Emiliano Martinez.

With Salah’s form uneven, Mane has emerged as Klopp’s striker in recent weeks, and his performances during the second half of the campaign must certainly be included in all talk of his future, which are scheduled to end the campaign.

Replacing the 30-year-old will be almost impossible. How many players combine subtlety and physicality like him? How many players continue to provide elite-level performances and elite-level figures year after year?

Liverpool have recruited well such as Diaz and Jota, but they would have to do something special to find another Mane.

And again, it was the man from Senegal who stepped up when needed. The night Liverpool had to win, Mane provided for them.

Manchester City remains in boxing, but Guardiola and his guys still have a lot of work to do.

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