Liverpool 2-1 Bournemouth Warm Down: Reds attune to Milner's pre-match mantra despite VAR controversy 

Liverpool recovered from VAR controversy to ensure their recent blip was put to bed as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both scored to overturn Callum Wilson’s early strike. 

His goal inside the opening ten minutes should’ve been disallowed for a foul on Joe Gomez, after the forward appeared to push him before breaking through on goal. Underlining the persisting issues with VAR, Liverpool were made to show the powers of recovery they’ve shown all season.

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Salah breaks more ground as Liverpool end slump

While there was a palpable mix of frustration and nervousness looming around Anfield following Callum Wilson’s goal, Mo Salah stepped up as he has so many times for Liverpool to ensure their relative slump was halted.

The Egyptian produced a fine performance to take the Reds one step closer to the promised land, while simultaneously showcasing the consistency he has produced since moving to Merseyside. 

His instinctive low-driven strike meant that he has notched 20+ goals in all competitions for the third successive season – the first Liverpool player to do so since Michael Owen in 2002-03. What’s more, it marked his 94th direct goals contribution in 100 top-flight appearances, taking his Premier League goals tally for the club beyond Luis Suarez’s record, in fewer games. 

Far from a perfect pass by Mane, Salah’s ability to retrieve possession, take it in his stride and fizz a driven shot into the bottom corner was illustrative of his qualities; the man with the Midas touch in front of goal when Klopp’s Reds needed it most.

He is simply a phenomenon.

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Mane epitomises Milner’s pre-match mantra to inspire comeback 

As Salah soared to new heights on his 100th Premier League appearance, Sadio Mane’s work rate and drive epitomised the message of his captain ahead of kick-off. 

In the warm-ups, James Milner was seen rallying his teammates, uttering: “Everything we do, highest tempo!”. 

The 34-year-old was the figurehead Liverpool have desperately needed in the absence of Jordan Henderson; a model professional who is clear that standards should not slip despite the club’s current gap at the Premier League summit.

Mane was arguably the perfect epitome of Milner’s message, constantly fighting for loose balls to put Bournemouth under pressure and force them into mistakes. Such tenacity was the root cause of the home side’s equaliser, capitalising on a poor touch from Jack Simpson before cutting back to Mohamed Salah.

The Senegal  international was the man to complete the turn-around, capitalising on a brilliant through-ball by Virgil Van Dijk, whose pass cut open the Bournemouth defence, leaving him to bend a shot beyond Ramsdale. Just reward for his performance, he came agonisingly close to a stunning second, only to be denied by the woodwork after a sensational long-range attempt. 

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Milner the hero but more work to be done before Atletico

On his first start for the Reds since the 1-0 win over Everton in the FA Cup third round, James Milner produced a real captain’s performance to guide Liverpool over the finish line. 

Showcasing his leadership qualities and overall selflessness, deployed in an unnatural left-back role, the 34-year-old was Klopp’s trusted lieutenant on the pitch against Bournemouth, setting an example for his teammates.  

No Reds player won more tackles (two), made more clearances (four) or blocked more shots (three) than Milner, with only Van Dijk and Gomez making more passes (84) and only three starters registering a higher passing accuracy (86.9%). 

Indeed, but for his acrobatic intervention on the goal-line, Bournemouth would’ve stolen a point from Anfield after Ryan Fraser lobbed the ball over Adrian, who replaced the injured Alisson

His pre-match address during the warmup served the ultimate reminder of his qualities as a leadership figure in the current squad, while underlining the frustrations over the club’s record form. 

The veteran would be first to admit it was far from the confident performance many would’ve anticipated given the respective league positions of both sides, with the league leaders failing to kill off the game in the second half.

As such, there remains plenty for Jurgen Klopp’s side to work on ahead of their critical Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid in midweek, but at this stage of the season, it’s the three points that matters most for the soon-to-be Champions.  

In doing so, Klopp’s customary fist pumps to the Kop made a welcome return on the full-time whistle as his side left another record in their wake, setting a new English top-flight record of 22 consecutive home league wins, surpassing the record previously set by Bill Shankly’s Reds in 1972. 

They are now just three wins away from the illusive prize. 

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