Huddersfield 0-1 Liverpool

Huddersfield 0-1 Liverpool: Mohamed Salah’s first-half strike ensures Jurgen Klopp’s side keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table

  • Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for the visitors in the 24th minute of the Premier League encounter
  • Huddersfield’s Jonathan Hogg hit the post and Alex Pritchard saw his goal ruled out for offside in the first half
  • Salah had the chance to double Liverpool’s lead in the second half but his effort traveled wide of the post
  • Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was taken off at half time, while Adam Lallana returned to starting XI 

Bill Shankly was Huddersfield Town’s manager on the last occasion they beat Liverpool and the last player to find the net against the same opponents spent his summers playing county cricket for Leicestershire. The omens had never looked good.

But beyond the resignation that the Premier League’s second tier always feel about games like this, David Wagner could rue the fact that his side failed to beat a Liverpool side who were a shadow of their best. The look on his face told its own story when Steve Mounie blasted high into the stand after opportunity knocked, ten minutes from time.

For the winning team, that is of no significance, of course. It was another win quietly secured, equalling the best start to a Premier League season. Their ability to extract it – and go second – with far less than the blood and thunder of last season adds to the impression that pragmatism has replaced idealism where Klopp is concerned. The pay-back may be less exhaustion come the title run-in.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scored the opening goal of the Premier League encounter at the John Smith's stadium

Salah celebrates after scoring Liverpool's first goal against Huddersfield, which proved enough to earn all three points

Salah celebrates with team-mate Adam Lallana (hidden) as well as Xherdan Shaqiri after breaking the deadlock in first half

There was energy from the start, the technical intelligence of pocket midfielder Alex Pritchard and the presence and vision of Danish centre half Philip Billing. Yet when the moment seemed about to present itself, the six-yard box was empty.

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It meant that – to return to a theme which has become familiar this season – Liverpool could reach the ascendancy while considerably less than their best. Klopp had his eye on the week ahead, with Red Star Belgrade at Anfield on Wednesday, and left Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino on the bench. The side who went to work were often a few yards off the pace of a first half which they only just about edged.

MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE

Huddersfield Town (3-5-1-1): Lossl 6; Jorgensen 6.5, Schindler 6, Lowe 6; Hadergjonaj 6 (Mbenza 69 5.5), Mooy 6.5, Hogg 7.5 (Diakhaby 90+2), Billing 7 (Mounie 69 5.5), Durm 6; Pritchard 7.5; Depoitre 6.5.

Subs not used: Hamer, Bacuna, Van La Parra, Stankovic

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 6; Gomez 6, Lovren 5.5, Van Dijk 6.5, Robertson 6; Shaqiri 8, Henderson 7 (Wijnaldum 46 6), Milner 7 (Firmino 75 5.5); Salah 6.5, Sturridge 5, Lallana 6 (Fabinho 69 5.5).

Subs not used: Mignolet, Origi, Matip, Alexander-Arnold

Referee: M. Oliver 7

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in the 24th minute.

Eric Durm of Huddersfield is dejected after they concede a goal in the 24th minute of the league match on Saturday evening

Huddersfield midfielder Pritchard reacts after his goal was ruled out for offside during the first 45 minutes on Saturday

The 24th minute goal which sent them ahead was that first period’s only moment of class. Joe Gomez was the originator, taking down a ball across midfield from James Milner, locating Xherdan Shaqiri with a pass of outstanding vision which allowed the Swiss to find Mohamed Salah in the penalty box right hand channel. The Egyptian’s pace and finish, on the acute, were too much for the desperately retreating Christopher Schindler.

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But the goal could not obscure that this was a Liverpool with the intensity taken out. Salah’s goal tally – five in ten – is hardly that of a forward in existential crisis. But his first touch is so frequently heavy this season. Daniel Sturridge, in for Firmino, contributed painfully little to the first half and did not look like he carried any resolve. So much for the notion, after his equaliser at Chelsea, that he is a player reborn. The forward’s lofted effort early in the second half sailed high.

Klopp’s experiment extended to deploying Adam Lallana for his first Premier League start since New Year’s Day. There were intermittent signs of his exquisite touch but of those presented with an opportunity to step up from edges, only Shaqiri seized the night.

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is tackled by Christopher Schindler of Huddersfield during the first half of the league clash

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren and Mathias Zanka Jorgensen challenge for the ball in the air at the John Smith's Stadium

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions to Salah during the first 45 minutes as Liverpool headed into the break 1-0 up

Liverpool's Joe Gomez (centre) and Huddersfield Town's Jonathan Hogg battle for the ball at the John Smith's Stadium

David Wagner’s players did more of the pressing and after Liverpool had gone ahead they looked like they might break back into the game. Jonathan Hogg struck a right foot shot from 30 yards which struck the outside of the left upright.

Milner diced with calamity when a Billing header flew to his thigh and struck his outstretched arm, provoking loud penalty appeals. Pritchard slotted a ball beyond Alisson but was adjudged fractionally offside. Both decisions seemed correct.

There was something slightly discomfiting about the stadium announcer’s angle on things at half-time. ‘We’ve just gone to toe for 45 minutes with a team who were in the final of the Champions League.’ Huddersfield don’t not want to consider themselves minnows.

Salah had a chance to double Liverpool's lead in the second half of the match but his shot travelled wide of the post

Huddersfield's Depoitre tackles Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum during the league clash at the John Smith's Stadium

Liverpool striker Sturridge in action as the Reds looked to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League seasonLiverpool striker Sturridge in action as the Reds looked to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League season

Liverpool did have further chances as the afternoon wore on. Sturridge found Salah with a good diagonal ball – his best contribution of the evening. The No 11 could not find a firm connection after he took the ball down on his chest. Substitute Roberto Firmino also fired over from the edge of the box when he had time and space to select his shot.

But Hudderfield were the ones who created the best chances of the second half. Chris Lowe departed off down the right and crossed for Laurent Depoitre, whose effort brought a sharp save out of Alllison. Full-back Flaurent Hadergjonaj also located Depoitre from the same flank but his finish was tame. He did not look like he believed he could finish. Then came the Mounie skied chance, after Dejan Lovren’s casual attempt to block a low cross was poor.

The new metric of ‘passing rate’ has recently entered the discussion of Liverpool’s football. It is the number of passages of play when the opposition fail to complete three passes in a row – and in the incarnation we have seen this season they are the division’s ninth best. Only one number matters of course. 23 points. No other Premier League side has more.

On his return to the starting XI, Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana was left with his shorts ripped at the John Smith's Stadium

Lallana leaves the pitch with the club's medical staff and was replaced by Brazilian midfielder Fabinho in the 69th minute

Huddersfield manager David Wagner reacts on the touchline as his side suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at home on Saturday

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