How satisfying was that Reds?
The Mighty Boys in Red go top in style and without breaking a sweat. They were, to a man, absolutely terrific this afternoon. It can be easy to underrate these performances when you’ve got the game won over half an hour before the end. The emotions aren’t as high at full time etc. but that for me, was Liverpool’s best performance of the season. If I was doing the player ratings, not one of them would get below 10. It was Firmino’s greatest showing this campaign and Matip’s best in a Liverpool shirt. The confidence and assurance within the side from the first minute was evident. They know how to win these games now and they know they know that. They back themselves to come out on top and play accordingly.
Mo Salah though. He is everything above and more. The Reds were all set for another away tie where they get the game won with as little fuss as possible, but he wasn’t having any of it. In fact, he himself turned a pragmatic away performance into an absolute thrashing. He was dangerous from the get go, playing in the gap between centre half and ‘keeper, realising how slow Begovic is off his line. After a few ‘nearly’ moments, he got in in the 25th minute after the keeper couldn’t deal with Firmino’s powerful strike. From here, he sensed blood. He was absolutely ruthless today. 3 shots on target, 3 goals.
You could sense the will of the Bournemouth players fade as the second went in. They knew the game was over. The manner of it visibly crushed them. They had started the second half well and were gradually looking more dangerous but they gave the ball away sloppily inside their own half and Salah punished them again with a sublime goal. Steve Cook cleverly decided to foul him and take the yellow rather than concede a second at such a crucial time. Knowing there was no margin for error, he stood on his heel and scraped his studs down his achilles to ensure he’d go down. So I’m sure you can imagine Cook’s surprise seconds later when he saw Mo hobbling towards the stand, grimacing with pain as the ball ripples the net.
The day didn’t get much better for Cook to be honest. He made it 3-0 with an own goal that symbolised Bournemouth’s mentality really as they felt sorry for themselves and completely lacked any sort of belief that they would get something from the game.
It got worse still for him though. Lallana came on and delivered a perfectly weighted ball in behind for Salah to chase. He eased off Cook impressively before scoring his best of the night. I think all in all he fooled about a thousand people there, including Martin Tyler in commentary. He takes the ball past the keeper and Tyler tells us he’s scored his third. But he hasn’t. Yet. The ball’s still at his feet as he goes past the keeper again. Tyler’s awkward silence ends as he just starts shouting, “Is he?!”, now hoping, for the first time in his life, that a Liverpool player scores to at least partially salvage his embarrassment. According to Squawka, Salah now has as many goals for Liverpool as Phillippe Coutinho. Astonishing.
Mo’s heroics takes us top of the league now Reds, and may we all enjoy it. I’m sure we all got out plastic flags and cheered Chelsea on as they beat Manchester City and enabled us to stay there.