STARS IN EUROPE - SENEGAL - CLUB - Mane double gives Liverpool victory
Sadio Mane lifted Liverpool's recent gloom by scoring twice in two first-half minutes to see off top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield.
The forward put the Reds ahead when he ran onto Georginio Wijnaldum's pass, holding off Ben Davies to fire in.
He doubled the lead 138 seconds later, pouncing on a loose ball from close range after keeper Hugo Lloris denied Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino.
Second-placed Spurs rarely threatened as Liverpool moved within a point.
The visitors' best chance fell to forward Son Heung-min, whose fierce, angled shot was blocked by Reds keeper Simon Mignolet shortly after Mane's second.
Spurs remain nine points behind leaders Chelsea ahead of the Blues' trip to Burnley on Sunday.
Liverpool, who had not won in their five previous matches, move back up to fourth.
▪ My Sunday will be perfect after win - Klopp
Liverpool boosted by the Mane man
Liverpool's downturn in form since New Year coincided with the absence of Senegal forward Mane, who missed seven matches when he represented his country at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Reds managed just one win in his absence, slipping from Chelsea's nearest title challengers to fifth place and going out of both domestic cup competitions.
Here Mane, who failed to shine in last weekend's defeat at Hull City, showed just why Liverpool lamented his loss.
Mane impressed in the first half of the season following his £34m arrival from Southampton - his pace, energy and clinical finishing contributing heavily to Liverpool's success.
Without him, they struggled to break down opponents.
With him, they tore apart Tottenham in the opening quarter.
Spurs could not handle the speed of thought, or the speed of movement, of the home side.
Mane - who scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history in two minutes and 56 seconds in May 2015 - almost came close to another quickfire treble, only to be denied again by the over-exposed Lloris.
While Spurs stemmed the tide after the break, the damage was already done.
Analysis - 'Mane is phenomenal'
(Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright on Match of the Day)
"They couldn't win without him.
Mane is the one with that bit of pace to get in behind and I didn't think they were doing that recently and that's because he wasn't there.
"He is phenomenal. He senses the danger. Spurs couldn't deal with him."
Spurs' struggles continue away from the Lane
While Liverpool had not won in five games, Tottenham were playing with confidence and fluency in a 15-match streak which had seen them beaten just once.
The formbook was torn up at Anfield.
Spurs had conceded just twice in their previous five league games, but were uncharacteristically porous without injured pair Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen.
Harry Kane was isolated up front, while midfielders Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen were virtually anonymous in the opposition half.
Spurs managed just two shots on target as Reds keeper Simon Mignolet was largely untroubled, their frustration becoming evident after the break as four players picked up yellow cards.
Worryingly for boss Mauricio Pochettino, his side failed to turn up again in a potentially-pivotal trip to one of their top four rivals.
Spurs have won just twice on the road since 24 September, including defeats at Chelsea and Manchester United in addition to draws at Arsenal and Manchester City.
"We were poor. They were better. No complaints," said Pochettino.