Sadio Mane was on target as Liverpool closed the gap on leaders Manchester City with a narrow 1-0 victory over West Ham at Anfield.
The Senegal international netted his 12th Premier League goal of the campaign when he converted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s miscued shot on 27 minutes.
Mohamed Salah had earlier wasted a glorious chance when sent clear on Lukasz Fabianski, while Luis Diaz had a close-range shot cleared off the line by Aaron Cresswell.
Liverpool dominated the first half but the Hammers had plenty of moments on the counter attack, with Pablo Fornals seeing a dinked effort hooked off the line by the impressive Alexander-Arnold.
The visitors were missing captain Declan Rice through illness and saw their hopes of avoiding defeat further dented when their leading scorer Jarrod Bowen was helped off injured in the second half.
However, they should have levelled matters 20 minutes from time when Manuel Lanzini somehow blazed over from seven yards out.
Liverpool saw out a nervy finale from there to become just the fourth club to clock up 600 Premier League wins and move within three points of the summit. West Ham remain fifth having played more games than their nearest rivals in the battle for fourth spot.
Next up, Liverpool host Inter Milan in the second leg of their Champions League tie on Tuesday night. West Ham visit Sevilla in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday.
TALKING POINT – ALL EYES ON THE MANCHESTER DERBY
That was very much the definition of a hard-fought victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men but the result was all that mattered given the context of the title race.
It was always going to be a tricky affair for Liverpool, particularly as West Ham found a game plan to cause them plenty of problems in the reverse fixture when the Hammers won 3-2 at the London Stadium in November.
The hosts handled set pieces well throughout this one but were fortunate not to concede on the counter attack and managed to get over the line to move within striking distance of champions, Manchester City with 11 games to play.
The clash between the top two teams at the Etihad on April 10 is looking increasingly significant and City are well aware they can’t afford any slip ups. Of course, a derby can often provide that sort of banana skin and this Liverpool result adds extra spice to the Citizens’ showdown with Manchester United on Sunday evening.
Klopp may suggest he doesn’t know when that fixture is or think much about City in general, but he’d be the only one in the red half of Merseyside as his team’s momentum cranks up the heat. This was Liverpool’s 12th win on the spin in all competitions and maintains their push on all fronts.
Talk of a quadruple following the League Cup triumph over Chelsea last weekend still seems premature but Klopp may find himself dealing with repeated questions about it if his team keep finding ways to dig out positive results like this.
MAN OF THE MATCH- TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (LIVERPOOL)
A solid display from the right back. He chalked up yet another milestone with an obligatory assist and made an equally crucial clearance off the line as the hosts dug deep to take the three points.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 8, Van Dijk 7, Konate 7, Robertson 7, Keita 7, Henderson 7, Fabinho 7, Salah 6, Mane 8, Diaz 8. Subs: Jota 6, Milner n/a, Jones n/a.
WEST HAM: Fabianski 7, Johnson 7, Dawson 6, Zouma 6, Cresswell 7, Soucek 7, Fornals 7, Bowen 7, Lanzini 7, Vlasic 7, Antonio 8. Subs: Benrahma 6, Noble 6, Chester n/a.
02’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Salah is sent charging clear from the right by Trent Alexander Arnold’s quick thinking. The Egyptian is one-on-one with Fabianski but the keeper makes a super stop to keep him at bay.
27’ – GOAL! – Liverpool 1-0 West Ham. The Reds break the deadlock as Mane scampers into the six-yard box to convert Alexander-Arnold’s miscued shot.
38’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCES! The home side carve West Ham open down the right through Fabinho and Alexander Arnold. The right back cuts it across for Diaz but Cresswell manages to clear his close-range shot off the line. Salah’s improvised flick attempt is then scrambled to safety.
40’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! The visitors spring Liverpool’s high line. Fornals runs through on Alisson but his dinked finish is brilliantly cleared off the line by Alexander-Arnold. The hosts are still in danger but Konate recovers to make a vital block on Vlasic’s follow up.
65’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Diaz collects Mane’s pass, cuts inside and curves an 18-yard shot just past the far post.
70’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! Lanzini should make it 1-1. He takes down Soucek’s cross from the right, fakes a shot to bamboozle Alexander-Arnold but then inexplicably lashes over the bar from seven yards out.