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Sadio Mane keeps Liverpool’s quadruple bid on track with winner at Aston Villa

The Reds are level on points with leaders Manchester City in the Premier League table after a 2-1 victory.

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates his goal at Aston Villa (Nick Potts/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Sadio Mane kept Liverpool’s quadruple hopes alive after frantic comeback win at Aston Villa.

The forward’s 22nd goal of the season earned Jurgen Klopp’s side a 2-1 victory and moved them level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

Joel Matip cancelled out Douglas Luiz’s opener during a mad opening six minutes.

Douglas Luiz’s early goal put Aston Villa ahead against Liverpool (Nick Potts/PA)

Liverpool trail City on goal difference and their rivals have the chance to move three points clear with two games left when they travel to Wolves on Wednesday.

Klopp now takes his side to Wembley for Saturday’s FA Cup final with Chelsea in the next stage of their quadruple quest.

Mo Salah started on the bench ahead of the Wembley showdown and the gamble looked to be backfiring when mid-table Villa took a third-minute lead.

Ollie Watkins raced behind the Liverpool defence and Alisson beat away his powerful drive, only for the Reds to concede immediately after.

Joel Matip’s goal ensured Liverpool were not behind for long at Villa Park (Mike Egerton/PA)

Matty Cash’s cross found its way to Lucas Digne and his delivery was met by Luiz whose header was initially parried by Alisson, only for the midfielder to hammer in the follow up from close range.

It sent Villa Park wild but the home crowd were silenced just three minutes later when Liverpool scrambled a leveller.

A chaotic opening continued when Tyrone Mings made a complete mess of clearing Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick and Matip poked in Virgil van Dijk’s centre from four yards.

Sloppy Liverpool had been gifted an instant reply but they remained ragged at the back – with Alisson escaping after sending a reckless pass straight at Watkins.

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Minutes later he was beaten to John McGinn’s cross by Danny Ings, only for the former Liverpool striker to head over.

It had been a haphazard half from the visitors, who lost Fabinho to a hamstring injury, as they lived dangerously at the back with Watkins a danger.

But Liverpool had begun to find the openings, Mane earlier nodding wide and having a tap-in rightly ruled out for a Luis Diaz offside after 33 minutes.

The recalled Philippe Coutinho curled over for Villa yet it was Naby Keita who blew a fabulous chance 10 minutes before the break.

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Alexander-Arnold could not have gift-wrapped it any more as the ball arrived to the unmarked midfielder eight yards out but he embarrassingly missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.

It said everything about a frenetic half and, while Liverpool eventually exerted a degree of control, they were never comfortable.

The breakneck nature continued after the break as Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick whistled wide and Konstantinos Tsimikas’ brilliant covering tackle denied Watkins.

Liverpool continued to see more of the ball, Alexander-Arnold driving another free-kick wide, before they grabbed the lead after 65 minutes.

Sadio Mane kept Liverpool’s quadruple bid on track with his winning goal (Nick Potts/PA)

Diogo Jota sent Diaz away on the left and he teased Mings before delivering the perfect cross for the unmarked Mane to glance in his eighth goal in his last 11 games.

Even then, Villa had the chance for an immediate reply but Ings’ touch let him down when through.

Salah emerged from the bench to replace Diaz with 19 minutes remaining as Liverpool tried to go for the kill and Cash headed Mane’s goalbound volley clear.

But they failed to find a third and needed Alisson to save from Ings before the former Anfield star had a goal ruled out for offside during a nervy finale.

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