HUDDERSFIELD, England (Reuters) - Liverpool bounced back from two successive defeats with a 3-0 Premier League win at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday to open up a five-point gap over their rivals for a top four finish.
Emre Can and Roberto Firmino put fourth-placed Liverpool ahead before a late Mohamed Salah penalty as they moved clear of Tottenham Hotspur, who host Manchester United on Wednesday.
Against a struggling Huddersfield side who lacked the fire and spirit of adventure they showed earlier in the season, Liverpool were in charge throughout as they condemned the Yorkshire side to their fourth straight league defeat.
It was a much-needed win for Liverpool, who lost to Swansea City and suffered an FA Cup exit at home to West Bromwich Albion last week, with record signing Virgil van Dijk on the bench.
“That was the reaction we needed to show,” said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, “It was not our best performance ever but we were more mature and it was deserved. We had more moments than three goals, but Huddersfield defended well.”
The home side had the first opportunity when Belgian striker Laurent Depoitre’s side-foot effort was saved by Loris Karius in the 17th minute after Chris Loewe had broken down the left and delivered a fine cross.
Liverpool’s German midfielder Can fired the visitors ahead in the 26th minute, meeting a Huddersfield clearance with a fine first-time effort from 25 metres which took a slight deflection to beat goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
Can was Liverpool’s outstanding playere, commanding in the central areas and providing energy and invention on the right.
Huddersfield did go close from Loewe’s free-kick, which crept just wide of the right-hand post, but Liverpool doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime when Firmino fired past Lossl from a tight angle.
The Brazilian cut in from the left, spotted a gap at the near post and slotted the ball past the bemused keeper.
Salah made it 3-0 with a 78th minute penalty after Philip Billing pulled down Can to leave Huddersfield in 14th place on 24 points, just one point above the relegation zone.
“I think no doubt the better side won today,” said Huddersfield manager David Wagner. “We are not dreamers, if we want to get something from better sides, all the details need to go in your favour,”
“We conceded an unlucky goal from 25 yards and before that we had the best chance in the game from Depoitre. It was a difficult night when all the details went against us.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris