Liverpool shored up their place in the top four by putting successive defeats behind them with a comfortable win over Huddersfield.

Emre Can’s deflected long-range effort found the bottom corner to put the Reds ahead midway through the first half, after the hosts’ Laurent Depoitre had missed the best early chance.

Roberto Firmino threaded a finish between goalkeeper Jonas Lossl and his near post for a second just before the break.

Mohamed Salah took over penalty-taking duties after Firmino’s missed effort in the FA Cup defeat by West Brom and put the outcome beyond doubt after Philip Billing’s foul on Can.

Huddersfield are now just one point above the relegation zone, while Liverpool are five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.

After defeats by Swansea in the league and West Brom in the FA Cup in their last two games, a trip to another of the Premier League’s lesser lights and a boisterous, bouncing John Smith’s Stadium was a further potential pitfall for Liverpool.

Can’s daisy-cutter settled their nerves however, catching a critical ricochet off Billing to worm its way into the bottom corner from 25 yards, before Firmino cannily disguised his intentions as he finished from the tightest of angles.

Once ahead, the visitors defused any danger by monopolising possession.

Much of the second half was played at little more than exhibition pace as the visitors banked a mammoth 75% of the ball and were rarely threatened.

Sadio Mane could have extended the lead with two fine headed chances and Salah’s penalty was amends for the Egypt international earlier missing when well placed on his weaker right foot.

But, even for Liverpool team that has struggled to see out leads, two goals had looked more than enough. The hosts have only 19 goals from their 25 league games so far this season.

This victory and Arsenal’s defeat at Swansea moves the Reds eight points ahead of the sixth-placed Gunners after 25 games.

Sunday’s home match against Tottenham – who host Manchester United on Wednesday in their game in hand – offers a chance to open up a decisive gap between the top four and the rest.

 

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