Liverpool survived a rare night of struggle in this stellar season to overcome West Ham United and close to within four wins of the Premier League title as keeper Lukasz Fabiansk suffered an Anfield nightmare.
Victory means Liverpool equal the English league record of 18 successive wins, set by Manchester City from August to December 2017, with Jurgen Klopp’s side last dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in October.
The Hammers – whose fans staged protests against the club’s owners throughout – threatened to inflict Liverpool’s first league defeat this term when they led midway through the second half.
Liverpool took an early lead when Fabianski failed to deal with a routine Gini Wijnaldum header but David Moyes’ side showed great character to hit back through Issa Diop’s header, which should also have been kept out by Alisson.
And when substitute Pablo Fornals swept West Ham into the lead nine minutes after the break Liverpool were faced with a fight to preserve their unbeaten 27-match league run.
It had been a poor display by their sky-high standards but their luck was in as Fabianski was the culprit again, inexplicably allowing Mo Salah’s shot to squirm through his legs in the 68th minute.
There was a sense of inevitability as Liverpool went for victory and so it proved as Sadio Mane turned in with nine minutes left after Trent Alexander-Arnold lofted the ball over Fabianski.
It was cruel on West Ham and Moyes, with Liverpool keeper Alisson having to produce a crucial late block from substitute Jarrod Bowen.
Liverpool have restored their 22-point lead at the top and the Hammers are left in the bottom three.