Goalkeeping error gifts Liverpool 16th straight EPL win

<p>
              Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum, left, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Sheffield United and Liverpool at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
            </p>

SHEFFIELD, England (AP) — Liverpool relied on a dreadful goalkeeping error to take its winning run in the Premier League to 16 matches.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s 70th-minute volley from the edge of the area went straight at Dean Henderson, only for the ball to squirm through the legs of the Sheffield United goalkeeper and gift the league leaders a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Henderson is on loan at the promoted club from Manchester United, traditionally Liverpool’s fiercest rival.

“If he wants to be a professional footballer, these things are going to happen,” Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said of Henderson, who held his head in his hands after the mistake. “But if he wants to play for the top teams, if he wants to play for England, then he needs to do better, he needs to concentrate more. It’s a disappointing day for him.

“I am not going to put my arms around him, simply he needs to do better.”

Liverpool has opened the Premier League campaign with seven straight victories and has now won every league game since a 0-0 draw at Everton on March 3. Two more wins and Liverpool will tie the record of 18 straight Premier League wins, set by Manchester City in 2017.

Liverpool got away with one of its worst performances of the season, with Sheffield United in the visitors’ faces all match and showing great intensity.

“It was not the best game we had but we won,” Wijnaldum said. “A few years ago, we would not have been able to win these games. It could be a really important three points.”

Jürgen Klopp’s side did create the better chances, however, with Sadio Mane hitting the post from close range just before halftime and Mohamed Salah running through on goal in the 79th but seeing his finish turned aside by the right leg of Henderson.

United had an opportunity to equalize with five minutes left, but Leon Clarke lifted a shot over the crossbar as he stretched for a left-wing cross.

“These games, they are not all beauties and you have to work hard for the results,” Klopp said. “You have to respect the opponent. We had good moments and it was one of these games you have to win but not think too much about it.”