Mohamed Salah’s 40th goal of the season helped Liverpool to a routine Premier League win over Bournemouth and moved them to within a point of second-placed Manchester United.
The hosts made the perfect start when Sadio Mane followed up his own header to prod the ball past Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic.
Salah nonchalantly headed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass over Begovic in the second half for his 30th in the league, before Roberto Firmino netted his 25th of the campaign to confirm a fifth win in six games for Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Bournemouth, who did not test the Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius until Andrew Surman’s late shot, remain 11th on 38 points.
After knocking Manchester City out of the Champions League 5-1 on aggregate on Tuesday, this fixture at home to Eddie Howe’s side had a feel of after the Lord Mayor’s show about it for the hosts.
However, Klopp’s side did not rest on their laurels and found a rhythm and intensity the visitors struggled to match throughout.
During a dominant first half, Liverpool created 10 goalscoring opportunities to Bournemouth’s one and Mane’s 18th goal of the season ultimately laid the foundations for a comfortable evening.
By full-time, Liverpool had monopolised the ball with 618 passes to the visitors’ 375 as they eased down with the outcome assured.
The only downside of an otherwise trouble-free match for the Reds was an injury to Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, who hobbled off in the 83rd minute.
Salah closes on Rush record
Before Saturday, Julian Dicks was the last Liverpool player to score at Anfield on the day of a Grand National in 1994 – but Salah’s appearance on the scoresheet against Bournemouth had an air of inevitability about it.
The Egyptian has now netted eight goals in his past five games and is closing in on the 47-goal mark set by Ian Rush in 1983-84.
However, while it took Rush 65 games to reach his total, Salah has got within seven of the former Wales international having played 20 fewer games.
The 25-year-old’s goals and assists have earned the Reds 15 points this term – more than any other Premier League player – so is it any wonder he is strong contender for the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year?
Liverpool’s front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino have now scored 83 goals this season, while the Reds have amassed 300 goals in 148 games under Klopp.
While Bournemouth were overrun by a Liverpool performance brimming with energy, Lewis Cook’s showing was one bright spot for the visitors.
Cook, who made his England debut in the 1-1 draw against Italy in March, exuded calmness in midfield, a sign of his growing maturity since joining the Cherries from Leeds as a 19-year-old in 2016.
Bournemouth have earned 18 points from losing positions this season – more than any other team in the Premier League – but not even Cook’s best efforts could rally his team-mates into a recovery on Saturday.
However, at the time of his 73rd-minute substitution, he had covered 9.16km – the second-highest distance of any visiting player at Anfield in 2017-18.
Man of the match – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool).
‘An outstanding week’ – what they said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BBC Sport: “A good performance – and very, very, very, very important one after an outstanding week.
“Today it felt like a parade with people in their cars using the horn – wow.
“But we have to stay angry. We played Bournemouth, the rest was a few days ago and I said a few times our whole lives is Champions League qualification – so these games are all so important.
“The way they did it was really impressive, controlling over 70 minutes in a way that is exceptional.
“We scored one but had chance after chance with really good football against a side full of confidence – good footballers, quick on the counter-attack – which makes your life really uncomfortable.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, speaking to BBC Sport: “We played a very good team today, one of the best in Europe and they are showing that. It was a tough test, we learned a lot.
“At half-time we were in the game but their second goal came out of the blue – the ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah’s header were unbelievable. We were kicking ourselves really because we always believed we could come back if there was one goal in it.
“That is the individual quality they possess. You won’t see a better goal than that this weekend, a real team goal. It gave us a mountain to climb. We had chances after that, didn’t take them and the third goal I though was unfair on us.
“We wanted to stay in the game and have a go at them late in the match – at 2-0 that is a lot more difficult. I was pleased there were signs we could compete but it came too late.”
First African to score 30 Premier League goals – the stats
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their past 19 Premier League home games, the longest current run in the division, and the Reds’ longest run since August 2009 (31 games).
- Bournemouth have enjoyed just one win in their past 11 Premier League away games, drawing six and losing four.
- Mane is now the outright top scoring Senegalese player in Premier League history, netting 44 goals in the competition and eclipsing Demba Ba (43).
- Of players to have hit 10 or more goals in all of their Premier League seasons, only Sergio Aguero (seven) and Eric Cantona (five) have done it more often than Mane (four).
- Salah is the eighth different player to score 30 or more goals in a single Premier League season – he is also the first African to do so.
- Salah is also only the third different player in Liverpool history to score 40 or more goals in all competitions in a single season, after Roger Hunt (1961-62) and Ian Rush (1983-84 and 1986-87).
- Firmino has had a hand in five goals in his past five Premier League games against Bournemouth (three goals, two assists).