Liverpool (AFP) – Mohamed Salah became only the third Liverpool player to score 40 goals in a season in all competitions as they claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Egypt international deftly headed in Liverpool’s second goal at Anfield to join Ian Rush and Roger Hunt as the only players to achieve the feat for the Reds.
With four league matches and at least two legs of a Champions League semi-final remaining, Salah now has club great Rush’s all-time Liverpool season-record haul of 47 goals, achieved during the 1983/84 campaign, in his sights.
Sadio Mane was also on target for Liverpool against the Cherries as they moved to within two victories of guaranteeing a top-four finish and qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side came into the match on the back of an emphatic 5-1 aggregate victory over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who was suspended for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium, was the only change as he returned in place of James Milner and his sharpness and desire was a telling factor in securing Saturday’s victory.
A less heralded aspect of the England midfielder’s repertoire was also significant as he provided the assist for Mane’s opening goal.
– Unflashy Henderson –
Because of the nature of his unflashy role in Liverpool’s engine room, supporters have questioned whether Henderson deserves a regular place in manager Klopp’s starting line-up.
However, since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January Henderson has been more inclined to move forward in the knowledge that the reliable centre-back will shore up the defence.
From an advanced position on the right, Henderson helped the Reds seize a seventh-minute lead as Mane scored his 17th goal in all competitions, and his eighth in his last 11th matches.
Henderson curled a teasing cross into the penalty area and Mane found a pocket of space inside the Bournemouth area to glance a header at goal which goalkeeper Asmir Begovic parried.
Mane reacted quicker than the visiting players and was able to steer the rebound into the unguarded net –- thus becoming the highest-scoring Senegalese in the Premier League with 44 goals.
Salah had a snap shot wide and curled an effort over the crossbar in the first half, with Rush looking on from among the crowd.
With 21 minutes remaining, Trent Alexander-Arnold curled a high ball from deep and Salah escaped from the attention of Nathan Ake to flick a header over over Begovic and into the net.
It was Salah’s 30th league goal for Liverpool as he found the net for the seventh successive home league match.
Bournemouth briefly threatened when Dan Gosling’s shot brought a smart diving save out of Loris Karius but that was the best they could offer on a day when Liverpool won comfortably without breaking sweat.
Klopp’s side put the gloss on the result in injury time when the tireless Roberto Firmino was rewarded for his persistence and finished calmly at the near post after being found by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.