Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool thumped Merseyside rivals Everton 4-1 to make it three Premier League victories in a row and inflict further pressure on Toffees boss Rafael Benitez.
The Reds raced two goals in front inside 20 minutes in an away game against Everton for just the third time in the competition’s history thanks to strikes from Jordan Henderson and Salah.
Demarai Gray pulled a goal back before half-time to improve the mood around the ground, which began emptying after the second of Liverpool’s goals, but Salah gave Liverpool some breathing space with his second.
Diogo Jota blasted home a fourth to highlight the gulf between the clubs and add some gloss to a win that keeps Liverpool within one point of Manchester City and two behind leaders Chelsea, with both sides also victorious on Wednesday.
Salah twice went close and Joel Matip wasted a big chance as Liverpool made a fast start, but the visitors’ pressure soon told as Henderson guided Andy Robertson’s cutback past Jordan Pickford with a first-time shot.
That was Henderson’s first Merseyside derby goal in his 18th appearance and he also set up Liverpool’s second goal, the midfielder playing in Salah following a Ben Godfrey error for his team-mate to bend around Pickford from an angle.
Liverpool continued to dominate but were given something to think about when Gray took Richarlison’s pass in his stride and slotted in Everton’s first goal in a month with 38 minutes played.
That kept alive the prospect of a fifth successive league draw between the sides at Goodison, but Salah restored Liverpool’s two-goal lead with another calm finish after Seamus Coleman failed to control a poor pass from Gray on halfway.
Jota brilliantly turned Allan and fired an unstoppable drive past Pickford to round off the scoring 11 minutes from time in a one-sided derby that will lead to more questions being asked of Liverpool legend Benitez.
What does it mean? Normal service resumed on Merseyside
Everton ended a 20-match winless run in this fixture when the sides last met 10 months ago, but back-to-back Merseyside derby wins for the first time since 1984-85 never truly looked on the cards.
Liverpool were dominant from the off and were good value for their win, which stretches their unbeaten streak at Goodison Park in the league to 11 games and keeps them hot on the heels of Man City and Chelsea.
As for Everton, they have now taken just two points from their last eight matches and the pressure is seriously building on Benitez a little over five months on from his controversial appointment.
Salah has now either scored or assisted a goal in each of his last 12 Premier League appearances, making him just the third player to do so after Stan Collymore (12, March – August 1995) and Jamie Vardy (15, August – December 2015).
With his first goal, which followed Henderson’s opener, Liverpool scored twice or more in all competitions for the 18th game running, surpassing Sunderland’s long-standing record among English top-flight clubs from 1927 (17 games).
From the first minute through until the last, Everton were desperately poor defensively as a series of individual and collective errors were constantly punished by Liverpool.
This is the first time the Toffees have conceded four goals in a home league game against their fiercest rivals since a 5-0 loss in November 1982 – and it could have been more.
Key Opta Facts:
– Liverpool have scored at least twice in each of their last 18 games in all competitions, the new longest record in history by an English top-flight side.
– Mohamed Salah has scored 13 Premier League goals this season, nine of which have come away from home. This is more than double the number of any other player so far (Firmino, King – 4), whilst he’s the first Liverpool player to register a goal or assist in seven consecutive away appearances in the competition.
– Henderson is the first Liverpool player to score and assist at Goodison Park in the same Premier League game since Steven Gerrard in December 2005.
– Diogo Jota has now scored in 27 different games in the Premier League (33 goals), 12 matches at Wolves and now 15 at Liverpool. Only five players in the competition’s history have netted in more different Premier League games without ever ending on the losing side.
– Liverpool have scored 25 goals after their seven away games this season, a new Premier League record, and the most by a top-flight side since Burnley back in 1961-62 (also 25).
Liverpool return to Premier League action on Saturday with a trip to Wolves, while a badly out-of-form Everton take on Arsenal at Goodison Park next Monday.