Liverpool came from behind to beat Stoke City and stay on course for a top-four finish thanks to goals by substitutes Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Unmarked Jon Walters headed the hosts into the lead after meeting Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross, as the Reds failed to register a first-half effort on target.
Coutinho levelled with a first-time shot before Firmino smashed the bouncing ball beyond keeper Lee Grant after Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass.
Liverpool remain third in the Premier League table.
Liverpool overcome bottom-half hoodoo
Much has been made of Liverpool’s inability to beat teams in the bottom half of the table and for 45 minutes it looked like they were heading for defeat against a team that started the day 12th.
Klopp started with 17-year-old Ben Woodburn and 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold, while opting to keep Coutinho, who was ill during Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, and Firmino on the bench.
It looked like his plan to give youth a chance had backfired as Walters was left totally unmarked to bury Shaqiri’s inch-perfect cross past Simon Mignolet.
It was only after the introduction of Brazilian duo Coutinho and Firmino at the start of the second half – in place of Woodburn and Alexander-Arnold – that Liverpool played like a team chasing a Champions League spot.
Dejan Lovren headed against the bar before Coutinho swept home the equaliser from 12 yards out.
Liverpool fans were still celebrating when Firmino lashed a dipping shot over Lee Camp from 22 yards, a sublime goal worthy of winning any match.
Mignolet still had to produce a fine save to deny Saido Berhaino, but Liverpool hung on to move nine points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, although the Reds have played three games more.
Stoke lose again to a top-six team
Stoke slipped to 13th in the table after a fourth successive league defeat.
They were the better team in the first half but Mark Hughes’ side remain without a win against a team currently in the top six – eight defeats in 11 games.
At 1-0 they wasted a great chance to double the lead when Charlie Adam was denied at close range by Mignolet after a terrible mistake by Wijnaldum.
Had that gone it, it could have been a different story.
The Potters still need another four points to reach 40 with six fixtures left, including a home match against Arsenal.
They ought do it with games to spare – but they need to escape this losing run before it causes serious damage.
Man of the match – Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
‘I couldn’t feel any better’ – what the managers said
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes: “We needed to take our chances and capitalise when we were on top. I was happy, we were good value at 1-0 and restricted them to very little.
“Second half they brought their big hitters on, which made an impact, but it took a mistake from us.
“It was a long ball down the middle and we should have dealt with it. When those are the things that are happening you think maybe it’s not your day.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Philippe Coutinho lost three kilos in the past three days, which some people wish – but for a professional footballer it’s not too cool.
“Simon Mignolet saved our life. Job done, feels good. Nice weather, 63 points and I couldn’t feel any better.
“Now we have a long week. No team in the world wins only the very, very good games. You need to win games like this.”
‘Comeback kings’ – the stats
- Liverpool have won more points from losing positions than any other Premier League team this season (18).
- There were just 126 seconds between Liverpool’s first and second goals.
- Walters has scored seven times against Liverpool in the Premier League, more than he has against any other side.
- Wijnaldum has provided six Premier League assists this season, one more than he registered for Newcastle in 2015-16.
- Klopp’s side won their first away Premier League game of 2017.
Stoke can end a four-match losing run at home to Hull City on Saturday, 15 April (15:00 BST), while Liverpool are away at West Brom the following day (13:30).