Nine minutes was all it took for Liverpool to fall behind against Southampton in their Friday night game, where they knew anything but a win would've been viewed as a major setback in their Premier League title challenge.
While Liverpool teams in seasons gone by that been in title races would have succumbed to the pressure that was clearly evident at St. Mary's, Jurgen Klopp's side have become adept to handling said pressure as the 3-1 result at full-time testified.
It's the latest in a string of hard-fought wins for the Reds, where luck and persistence have helped them over the line against the likes of Fulham and Tottenham - though their victory on the south coast may prove to be their most important come the end of the season.
It may have taken until nine minutes before half-time by the time Liverpool found an equaliser, with a little help from the lack of an offside flag for Mohamed Salah in the build-up, but Naby Keita's first goal for the club meant they didn't have to deal with the psychological blow of being behind at the interval in a game that was must-win in all but name.
The second half saw a different side to one that had stuttered in large sections of the opening 45 minutes, as the introduction of James Milner, and more significantly Jordan Henderson, helped
the Reds push their hosts deeper and deeper, with a crucial goal seemingly forthcoming but yet to materialise.
While Liverpool sides in previous seasons, and even ones under Klopp earlier in his tenure, would've become more erratic and desperate in their search for a second, patience proved to be the key as they waited for an opportunity that was emphatically taken.
The Reds hadn't had a real chance to counter their hosts at pace, although a corner for the Saints in the final ten minutes provided that opportunity. Salah, akin to moments he exhibited last season, carried the ball from one end to another, before having the composure that has eluded him at times this season to finish beyond Angus Gunn.
By the time Henderson - who also provided the assist for Salah's goal - sealed the win for the Reds late on with a third, their return to the summit of the Premier League was confirmed, at the expense of Manchester City, in a game that had the hallmarks of a title-winning side.
All three goalscorers - Keita, Salah and Henderson - have had difficult moments this season, but all three came up with the goods when it mattered, with the former RB Leipzig man netting his first goal for the club. While last season's PFA Player of the Year saw the weight of scoring his 50th league goal for the club lifted after going six league games without a scoring - and eight in all competitions.
For Henderson meanwhile, the disappointment of being dropped following a difficult game last time out against Tottenham was quickly forgotten, as the Reds epitomised the importance of the entire squad in a title race.
Moreover, the win also meant Liverpool have won more points from losing positions than any other side in the league this season (16), which has been a major aspect to their title challenge that has kept them on the coattails of City throughout the campaign.
Gary Neville was extremely complementary of Liverpool speaking after the game for both getting the result and for the manner of their display - making this season's title charge different, but more genuine, to that of previous campaigns.
16 - Following their come-from-behind victory, Liverpool have won 16 points from losing positions in the Premier League, the most of any side this season. Backbone. pic.twitter.com/yKr5SeEH1Z— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 5, 2019
As quoted by Sky Sports,
Victory at St. Mary's means that only a win will do for City when they return to Premier League action in a week's time at Crystal Palace - the site of Liverpool's faded title challenge in 2014 - although have to contend with games against Brighton in the FA Cup semi-finals and Tottenham in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final beforehand.
As of now, City have looked in control, having won their last eight league games, although should they slip up, Liverpool will be in the wings to make the most of the opportunity should that occur due to their staying power throughout this season.
Source : 90min