Liverpool makes triumphant Anfield return as English champ

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Liverpool's Sadio Mane, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (Shaun Botterill/Pool via AP)

They walked out to another guard of honor, with a huge rectangular banner high up in the Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand reading: “Liverpool FC – Champions Again”.

Liverpool’s players were back home at Anfield for the first time since winning a first English league title since 1990.

It was a triumphant return, too.

Lacking the intensity and precision that brought the team the title in devastating fashion, Liverpool still managed to eke out a 2-0 win over Aston Villa to move in sight of a slew of records to cap one of the best ever top-flight campaigns.

Second-half goals by Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones secured a 17th straight win at Anfield, with just two more needed — against Burnley and Chelsea — to complete a 100% home record that would be unprecedented in the Premier League. Four wins from the last five matches and Liverpool will also pass Manchester City’s record from 2017-18 of 100 points in one season.

Not that Jürgen Klopp is necessarily counting.

“The only thing I can say,” the Liverpool manager said, “is there’s no chance to win records if you constantly think about records.

“We don’t want records. We want the three points.”