Mohamed Salah continued his incredible goal-scoring streak as Liverpool eased to a 4-1 victory over West Ham United to move up to second in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Egypt international took his tally to 18 in his last 17 top-flight games for Liverpool with his 31st goal of the season in all competitions as the Reds won by the same score-line as when the two sides met in the reverse fixture in November.
Salah scored twice in that match, and while his display was not quite as sparkling on a bitterly cold day at Anfield, he still managed to find the net to edge closer to Ian Rush’s club record of 47 in a single season which has stood since 1983-84.
Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané also got their names on the score-sheet for the hosts, while Michail Antonio netted a consolation for the Hammers.
Liverpool are a point clear of rivals Manchester United, who host Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have now scored 103 goals in all competitions this season, and showed their intent early on when Firmino cut the ball back for Salah, who clipped a low effort at goal which rebounded back out off the post.
Marco Arnautovic carried the sporadic first-half attacking threat for the Hammers and attempted an audacious chip from the corner of the box only to see Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius get fingertips on the ball before it struck the underside of the crossbar.
Liverpool’s persistence paid off just before the half-hour mark as they took the lead from a Salah corner.
His high in-swinging delivery was met by Can who outjumped and outmuscled French veteran Patrice Evra on his West Ham debut to head the ball into the net.
Arnautovic drew a fine diving save from Karius with a second spectacular effort from distance to nearly draw West Ham level against the run of play before the break.
However, Liverpool added their second six minutes after halftime as Salah benefited from some determined play by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Sadio with his own take on Bobby's kung fu celebration! 🥋 pic.twitter.com/6Vk65Rqztm
The Reds midfielder bundled his way through the Hammers defence and fortuitously passed it to Salah, who clinically found the far corner of the net.
Shortly afterwards Liverpool’s grip on the game tightened further when Can won the ball immediately from Adrian’s kick upfield and lifted it over the top of the West Ham defence for Firmino to chase.
Adrian raced off his line to try to intercept, but Firmino was too quick and his touch took him past the visiting goalkeeper before he slotted into an empty net in front of the Kop.
That should have sealed it for Liverpool, but within a minute of Michail Antonio’s introduction, the substitute pulled a goal back to create a few nerves.
This time Can was caught in possession and Cheikhou Kouyate released Antonio, who angled a fine finish low past the dive of Karius.
However, Liverpool reasserted their authority and some fine individual play by Oxlade-Chamberlain created an opening for Mane but he could only strike the post.
The Senegal forward made amends 13 minutes from time when he tapped in Andrew Robertson’s low cross from close range to round off the scoring.