Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool “deserved” victory at Sheffield United despite needing a “lucky” Georginio Wijnaldum goal to continue their perfect start to the Premier League season at a raucous Bramall Lane.
The winner was a moment to forget for the otherwise faultless Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who spilled the Dutchman’s tame effort before it squirmed agonisingly over the line.
“It’s normal you have to work hard for the points,” said Klopp. “You have to stay concentrated and do the right things. We did today. It was never a clicking day, it was an average day.
“We were deserved winners. If it’s 0-0 we cannot moan and would not. But if there’s one winner it should be us. We worked had for it. Winning in days like this is extremely worthy. We scored a lucky goal, we know that. But the boys worked so hard for it.”
Klopp’s side were far from their best in South Yorkshire – and left thankful that the hosts could not find a way through in a game where they matched the European champions in many respects.
Substitute Leon Clarke, making his Premier League debut at the age of 34, should have levelled it late on, but blazed over.
Liverpool have won their first seven league games of the season, and have a five-point lead at the top of the early season table.
When the story of the 2019-20 season is told, this may be looked back on as one of Liverpool’s most crucial but most fortunate victories.
The first half, though goalless, was thrilling. For all of the visitors’ early pressure, it was Chris Wilder’s side who had the first sight of goal when Ollie McBurnie stung the palms of Adrian.
Liverpool’s first clear chance came as a result of a long ball over the top from Virgil van Dijk, but Sadio Mane’s finish when through on goal was wild and wayward, while the Senegal forward later struck the post.
After the break, United may have hit the front, but for alert defending from Joel Matip and Andrew Robertson to frustrate the enthusiastic John Lundstram.
At the other end, when a penalty appeal for Lundstram’s challenge on Mane was denied, it seemed that Liverpool may have to settle for a point.
With time running out, the Merseysiders withdrew Jordan Henderson for Divock Origi, and the move to a 4-2-3-1 formation ultimately paid off when Wijnaldum’s shot snuck in.