Throughout a brilliant Liverpool career, Sadio Mane could never be described as a support act – but it does no harm to deliver a timely reminder of why he is virtually indispensable to JurgenKlopp’s team.
Mane has played key roles in Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2019, then their first English title in 30 years the following season, putting them alongside Manchester City as the Premier League’s two stand-out sides and among Europe’s elite.
And, with one subtle turn of his head, Mane made another crucial contribution at Villa Park – just when Liverpool’s attempt to win a historic quadruple looked under further threat after Saturday’s draw with Spurs.
Only a win would do for Klopp’s men and, with the score locked at 1-1 after 65 minutes, the anxiety was growing.
And then Mane proved his class again.
The outstanding Luis Diaz was the creator with a cross that was not quite inch-perfect, but Mane’s awareness, precision and athleticism meant he could angle a header beyond the outstretched left arm of Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez even though he was almost on the retreat.
It was the vital moment, a somewhat chaotic Liverpool display still bringing them the three points that leaves them behind leaders Manchester City only on goal difference with two games to play.