Salah and Mane send Liverpool top - for now
Liverpool thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 to climb on top of the English Premier League tableUpdated: Apr 27, 2019 10:17 IST
Winter returned to Anfield on Friday but while the temperature dropped, the standards of Juergen Klopp’s side certainly did not as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both struck twice in a 5-0 thrashing of relegated Huddersfield Town.
Liverpool kept the pressure up on Premier League title rivals Manchester City, moving to the summit on 91 points, two more than City, but Pep Guardiola’s side will regain top spot with a win at Burnley on Sunday.
Despite the wind, rain and freezing temperature, Liverpool had little trouble collecting their seventh league win in a row and with a trip to Newcastle United and home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers to come, Juergen Klopp’s side could well keep that streak going until the end of the season.
Ninety one points was enough to win 20 of the 27 Premier League titles and Klopp’s side could end the campaign with just a solitary league defeat to go with several other records -- but none of that will count for much if Pep Guardiola’s side do not drop points in their three remaining matches.
“Ninety one points. Wow, that’s crazy. It’s only possible because the boys play like they do, the attitude they have,” Klopp said.
“You cannot ask for luck or destiny, you have to work for it. We said we want to write our own history, that’s what we’re doing. The boys are outstanding,” he added.
Liverpool, who face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, were without forward Roberto Firmino who was rested due to a slight muscle strain.
But Klopp’s side do not lack for firepower even without their Brazilian striker.
Salah and Mane now have 21 and 20 goals each this season -- making them the top two scorers in the Premier League.
It took 14 seconds for Liverpool to go in front with Huddersfield defender Jon Gorenc Stankovic giving the ball away to Salah just outside the box and the Egyptian fed Naby Keita who slotted home off the inside of the post.
Mane headed in the second in the 23rd minute, meeting a trademark Andy Robertson cross from the left after Virgil Van Dijk had started the move with a surge out from the back.
On the stroke of halftime, Salah put the game beyond Huddersfield when he latched on to a long pass forward from Trent Alexander-Arnold and knocked the ball past the advancing Jonas Lossl.
Huddersfield, who opted against massed defence and tried to be positive, started the second half in determined fashion, creating three promising openings, but Liverpool soon took back control.
Mane scored his second and Liverpool’s fourth in the 66th minute, heading in a deep cross from Jordan Henderson and he went close to a hat-trick in the 78th minute when he headed a Xherdan Shaqiri cross against the post.
Salah made it 5-0 with a simple close-range tap-in from a low Robertson cross.
“All in all it was great, a really brilliant performance,” said Klopp. “Composure and everything that you need was there. So really happy.
“It’s obviously an outstanding group of players, who did well against a Huddersfield side who are much better than this result shows. They had proper counter-attacks so we needed to be patient and we scored wonderful goals”.
To add to a very positive evening, midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to action as a substitute, his first appearance since suffering a knee injury a year ago.