Jurgen Klopp declared it job done after Liverpool’s routine 3-0 win at Premier League strugglers Huddersfield got them back on track.
Emre Can and Roberto Firmino both scored excellent first-half goals to put Liverpool in control and Mohamed Salah added his 26th goal of the season with a late penalty.
Liverpool had gone 18 games unbeaten before following up their recent league defeat at Swansea by losing to West Brom in the FA Cup, but a sixth win in eight games lifted Klopp’s side level on points with Chelsea.
That was the reaction we needed to show,” Klopp said. “Everybody saw it was not brilliant, it wasn’t our best game we played so far.
“But it was very mature and very deserved. The best thing we did apart from scoring was our counter-pressing and we defended situations when Huddersfield won the ball.”
Can crashed home a stunning 25-yard opener via a slight deflection off Philip Billing’s foot and Firmino struck just before the break, squeezing the ball home from an unlikely angle for his 19th of the season.
Sadio Mane threatened with two headers after the interval and Salah went close when hitting the side-netting before converting from the spot in the 78th minute after Billing was adjudged to have bundled over Can.
“We had a few fantastic situations early in the game. Robbo (Andrew Robertson) in behind, Mo Salah pretty much alone, Sadio twice, so we had more moments than three goals.
“But it was difficult to play because they defended well, so I’m happy about the result.”
Klopp completed the double over close friend David Wagner – Liverpool beat Huddersfield 3-0 at Anfield in October – and he hopes the Terriers can survive.
“To stay in the Premier League is a difficult thing to do for most of the clubs and I think when people thought where Huddersfield would be by the end of January – not a lot thought they wouldn’t be in a relegation position and they are not.
“Don’t care about which opponent is there, just go for it. I would love to come here again because we can come on the bus, we don’t have to fly.
“In an hour we were here so Huddersfield, stay in the league!”
Wagner was left to rue a missed opportunity when Laurent Depoitre fired straight at Loris Karius when the score was 0-0, but had no complaints with the result.
“It was hard work and the guys worked very hard. There is no doubt that this was a deserved defeat,” he said.
“The quality side has won today. Against a team of this quality the important situations have to go in your favour to be successful.
Wagner’s side are now one point above the bottom three, who all have a game in hand, but the German kept his club’s plight in perspective.
“I see effort, I see a commitment and attitude, togetherness – everything you need at first.
“Confidence is not the highest. If you have a lot of defeats there is no question about that.
“The good thing is we don’t like where we are and we have this period where we don’t collect points, but we are not surprised. This is not unexpected and this makes it possible to manage.
“This means we lift our heads, meet in the morning for work and prepare for Saturday, Manchester United at Old Trafford.”