Against Hull City last weekend, the long awaited return of Sadio Mane to the Liverpool line-up was something of an anti-climax. Back at Anfield for the first time since early January for the clash against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, the Senegal international showed everything that the Reds fans had been missing in his absence.
With pace and drive, Mane showed exactly what Liverpool’s attack had been missing from the get go. It only took until the 16th minute for the ex-Southampton man to drive forward with only one thing in mind. Georgino Wijnaldum’s inch perfect pass matched Mane’s expertly timed run as he shrugged off the attention of Ben Davies to flick the ball up and over the head of Hugo Lloris.
Then, just two minutes later, his fighter’s instinct saw him close down Eric Dier and steal the ball off his toes before driving forwards, setting up Adam Lallana, only for Lloris to save efforts from both Lallana and Roberto Firmino before Mane found himself alert and in the ideal position to stab home.
In truth, he could have had more. With all four of his shots on target, Mane had two opportunities in the minutes after his brace, with one deflecting wide off of Lloris and into the side-netting and the other being well saved by Lloris, and it looked almost inevitable that he would secure a hat-trick at some point.
His two dribbles were vital in the Reds’ attacking play as he carried the ball forward from defence to attack as a vital tool in their counter-attacking style in the second half in particular. With the appalling form over the last few weeks having derailed any hopes of a title challenge, Jurgen Klopp will be desperately hoping that the winger can turn things around and re-establish the club in the top four.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Thuy Tran Thanh.