Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool climbed to the top of the Premier League table with a big win over Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
It may not be for long, but a hat-trick from Mo Salah sent the Reds on their way to the summit in a scintillating display of attacking football.
This is a good result for the impartial us Premier League fan as it means the race for the title is by no means a foregone conclusion. Premier League 2018 betting odds still back Manchester City to retain the trophy, but Liverpool sit proudly at the top for now.
Highlights of the game
Klopp rotated his side again, and the versatile James Milner took the right wing-back role in place of Joe Gomez, who suffered a fractured leg in the Reds’ hard-fought win at Burnley in midweek. The Liverpool boss was alarmed by the strength of the Clarets’ tackling during that bruising 90 minutes and has been embroiled in a war of words with Sean Dyche.
And Klopp’s words seemed to have paid off. Liverpool had the better of the opening exchanges, but Bournemouth fans were frustrated that referee Lee Mason booked two of their players for robust tackles while he was happy to accept similar challenges from Roberto Firmino and Milner. That seemed to prick the Cherries to force a smart save from Alisson: Josh King found David Brooks with a neat pass, and the winger’s shot was saved low to the keeper’s right.
But the Reds continued to dominate the ball, and they struck first. When the goal came, it was accompanied by a healthy dose of controversy. Asmir Begovic failed to hold on to a speculative shot from Firmino, and Mo Salah was first on hand to fire the ball home. However, he did arrive from a marginally offside position. It was Salah’s fourth goal in six outings, and despite the element of luck, it gave the Reds a deserved lead to take into the break.
Bournemouth had a mountain to climb against a team ready to take over at the top of the league, and it looked even more imposing just three minutes into the second half when Salah doubled the lead and his own account. Firmino intercepted a poor pass from Steve Cook and laid the ball forward to the Egyptian assassin, who ran at Nathan Ake before firing low into the bottom-left corner.
It was game well and truly over, on 68 minutes, when Andy Robertson raided down the left and put a dangerous low cross in, which the hapless Cook diverted past Begovic with what appeared to be a deft backheel! And it got even worse for poor Cook when he was outpaced by Salah before the red-hot striker rounded the keeper and poked his third home.
So Liverpool are at least top of the league for a few hours, having equalled their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League of 17 games. This includes the last game of last season.
Forty-two points from 16 matches are the Reds’ best ever start to a top-flight season, and keeper Alisson is unbeaten in his opening 16 Premier League games for Liverpool which is a club record.
Bournemouth had suffered four straight defeats until their narrow win against Huddersfield in midweek. After this thumping, Howe will be pleased his side made such a fast start to the campaign. They are still in a handy position with 23 points from 16 games.
The hosts have still only beaten Liverpool once in 14 attempts, and they never really came close today. Had the linesman flagged the first goal offside, it may have been a closer game, but the Reds’ win was ultimately resounding.
After a great start to the season, the Cherries are on a tricky run with five defeats in six. And they don’t have an easy ride next week when they visit Premier League new boys Wolves.
On their long journey home, the Liverpool fans could look forward to keeping up with the afternoon’s Premier League 2018 updates, with a close eye on Manchester City’s massive game away to Chelsea.
Then it’s back to business as Liverpool have a vital Champions League fixture to play on Tuesday against Napoli. After three away defeats in the competition, they now have to beat Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli to progress; that will be one tough nut to crack.
But just for now, the Reds are in ecstasy.
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