West Ham 1, Liverpool 3
With a trademark left-footed curler into the top corner and the deftest of finishes from a clinical counterattack, Mohamed Salah ended one of his longest goal droughts in the Premier League for Liverpool in style.
The champions’ chief scorer is back doing what he does best. And that should make them the biggest threat to relentless leader Manchester City in the title race.
Salah’s sublime, second-half double set Liverpool on its way to a 3-1 win at West Ham yesterday [Macau time], which backed up a victory by the same scoreline at Tottenham on Thursday.
Jurgen Klopp’s team hadn’t won any of its previous five games and had dropped off the remorseless title pace being set by City, which has won eight straight league games.
Despite its lengthy injury list — and Sadio Mane joined it this week because of a minor muscle problem — Liverpool cannot be discounted, even if the third-place Reds are four points behind City having played one game more in their turbulent title defense.
They jumped above Leicester, which lost 3-1 at home to Leeds earlier and dropped to fourth. Sixth-place Tottenham also lost 1-0 at Brighton.
“If you want to win the league, you have to win every game,” Salah said. “This year, City were struggling in the beginning. We were struggling three or four games ago. You just need to keep winning if you want to win the Premier League.
“It was a really big week.”
Salah scored twice in an FA Cup loss to Manchester United last weekend, but he hadn’t netted in six league matches, a barren run he had only experienced once — in February-March 2019 — since joining Liverpool in 2017.
The Egypt forward attributed some of that to technology — “I don’t like VAR,” Salah said after the West Ham game, “it just kills the game, the joy of football.”
But there was no stopping him at the Olympic Stadium.
His opener in the 57th minute was classic Salah, twisting and turning as he came in from the right before bending a shot into the far corner beyond goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
His second goal in the 68th was even better as he controlled a high, hanging pass from Xherdan Shaqiri with his weaker right foot and poked home a finish with his left.
“The first touch was unbelievable,” Klopp said, “then the fine finishing touch.”
Georginio Wijnaldum added a third off a well-worked team move in the 84th before Craig Dawson grabbed a consolation for an outclassed West Ham.
However well Liverpool plays in the second half of the season, it will need City to drop its stunning levels of late.
For Klopp, ideally that happens next weekend when City visits Anfield. STEVE DOUGLAS, MDT/AP