Mohamed Salah scored one and made another as Liverpool moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 rout of Newcastle at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Dejan Lovren’s stunning 11th-minute half-volley gave Liverpool a half-time lead with one of the few first-half chances mustered against a stubborn Newcastle defence.
But after the break the hosts turned their dominance into more goals, with Salah converting a penalty he won after Paul Dummett was harshly judged to have brought him to ground (47).
Xherdan Shaqiri put the result beyond doubt by slotting home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross 11 minutes from time, and then, seconds after title rivals Manchester City had fallen behind in their game at Leicester, Fabinho headed in Salah’s corner (85) to put Liverpool in firm control of the race for the Premier League trophy.
Had Joselu netted a fine early chance from Ritchie’s cross it could have been a very different afternoon, but he headed into the ground and wide – and soon, normal Anfield service was resumed.
A corner taken short to Andrew Robertson was whipped into the back post where Jamal Lascelles’ weak header fell perfectly for Lovren, who smashed in his first goal of the season with a peach of a strike from 12 yards.
Newcastle held out until the break as Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to create clear chances, but after half-time it was one-way traffic and Liverpool found their clinical edge.
saw Trent Alexander-Arnold replace the injured James Milner at
right-back, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Giorginio Wijnaldum also back in.
There were some six changes for Newcastle, who dropped Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez to the bench, and welcomed back Federico Fernandez in defence.
Salah netted a penalty within three minutes of the re-start after ref Graham Scott judged Dummett’s tug on the Egyptian’s arm enough to award a spot kick.
Newcastle survived several scares, with Sadio Mane and Shaqiri both going close before the latter ended a spell of relentless Liverpool pressure in the final third by turning in Alexander-Arnold’s cross from a lovely first-time Jordan Henderson through ball.
And with news filtering through that Manchester City were on the verge of a second shock defeat in four days, Fabinho turned in Salah’s whipped corner to complete the scoring on a perfect afternoon for Klopp’s side.
Man of the match – Dejan Lovren
The self-styled best defender in the world has had a tough time at Liverpool for much of his four years at Anfield, but his goal was the high point of another excellent performance from the World Cup runner-up since he came back into the starting line-up against Manchester United before Christmas.
He took on more aerial duels than anyone else on the Liverpool team (9), winning six of them (also a Liverpool high), and made three clearances too.
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