A brace each from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane meant that Liverpool returned to the summit of the Premier League, beating Huddersfield 5-0 on Friday.
It took the Reds seconds to grab a foothold in the game, as Naby Keita forced Jon Gorenc Stankovic into a mistake, with the ball falling to Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian’s first-time pass sent Keita through on goal before he finished past the onrushing Jonas Lossl without much of a fuss.
Midway through the second half, Liverpool saw their lead being doubled through Sadio Mane, who headed in from Andrew Robertson’s inch-perfect cross. Having overcome a brief period of Huddersfield resurgence, the hosts started asserting their authority on the game, and they added to their advantage at the stroke of half-time.
Trent Alexander-Arnold sent in a lobbed pass towards Mohamed Salah, who latched onto the ball before chipping it over Lossl for his 20th Premier League goal of the season. Huddersfield though, started the second half the stronger of the two sides, with Juninho Bacuna forcing Alisson Becker to make a save.
But, Liverpool ended up stretching their lead further in the 66th minute when Mane converted from Jordan Henderson’s cross to join Salah at 20 league goals for the season. But, Salah had other plans as he took sole lead in the Golden Boot race when he scored a simple tap-in from Robertson’s pass to round off the win.
The result took Liverpool to 91 points and more crucially, two points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table, although the defending champions have a game in hand. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men following another strong performance.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
As easy an outing as they have come this season for Alisson, keeping a staggering 20th clean sheet of the season that all but ensures him winning the Golden Glove. The Brazilian had just one save to make, with Juninho Bacuna ensuring he did not have a free pass on the night. Distributed well as is usually the case.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
A game of two ends for Alexander-Arnold. The young Englishman was in his elements in the final third, where he also provided an assist to Mohamed Salah. But, at the back, the academy graduate had his hands full with Karlan Grant, who gave him a tough time on the night. Still, had a role to play in the comprehensive win.
Dejan Lovren: 7/10
Back into the side after a short layoff due to illness, Lovren was largely steady apart from the odd moment of threat posed by Steve Mounie. The most ideal of games to mark a return to action, although it still is not enough for him to usurp Joel Matip, who has been solid as a rock lately.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
Liverpool’s defensive leader was typically astute on Friday, barely giving the Huddersfield attackers an inch to exploit, organising the defensive line expertly. Was commanding on the ball as well, even starting the move that led to Sadio Mane’s first goal.
Andrew Robertson: 9/10
Unlike Alexander-Arnold on the right flank, Robertson was barely threatened on his side, apart from one moment that saw Isaac Mbenza create a chance for Mounie. Provided an assist each for Mane and Salah, becoming only the third ever defender to provide 10 assists in a Premier League season. Will need to keep these levels up against Barcelona.
Naby Keita: 8/10
From Liverpool’s Mr. Consistent to someone who has been growing his stature of late. Keita got his name on the scoreboard just 15 seconds into the game, pressing Jon Gorenc Stankovic smartly before receiving the ball from Salah for his goal.
Naby Keita vs Huddersfield
4/5 tackles – joint most on pitch
3 interceptions – joint most
On fire at the minute! pic.twitter.com/sdeUipyXqi
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) April 26, 2019
Upon scoring Liverpool’s fastest ever Premier League goal, he was quite influential, working hard off the ball while linking up well with the front men. If these are the signs of things to come then 2019-20 could be Naby Keita’s season.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
Starting as the deepest midfielder for Liverpool for a second successive game, Wijnaldum was unassuming, keeping things tight in front of the defence. Tidy on the ball, the Dutchman rarely gave the ball away, which ensured the hosts asserted their dominance all throughout his time on the pitch.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Another game that saw Henderson start in a more advanced role, which keeps on bringing the best out of him. The Liverpool captain constantly looked to play an early ball to ensure Huddersfield never settled into their shape. Could have had a goal for himself, but did create one, when Mane scored his second. Playing the best football of his career.
Mohamed Salah: 9/10
Having missed out on the PFA Team of the Year, it looked as if Salah was playing with a point to prove. Provided the assist for Keita and then tormented the Huddersfield defenders all through the night. Took both his goals extremely well, and might have had a hat-trick had his volley dipped spectacularly. Seems to be back to his best, which is crucial in the run-in.
Sadio Mane: 9/10
It has been hard to keep Mane away from scoring at Anfield for quite some time now, and he surely wasn’t denied on Friday. The Senegalese though, would have been disappointed to have not gone home with the match ball, as his third header towards goal smashed against the woodwork.
The first two, however, were precisely nodded into the back of the net, and he was threat for the entire game with his darting runs and clever movement. Just one behind Salah in the Golden Boot race, the Liverpool stars are now owning it at the top of the charts.
Daniel Sturridge: 6/10
A surprising selection ahead of Divock Origi, with Roberto Firmino sidelined. Making his first start since January, Sturridge was somewhat underwhelming as he was far too static at times for his side to exploit the spaces around the box. Off the pace as well, but it can be chalked down to rustiness.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6/10
Chances have come few and far between for Shaqiri lately, but the Swiss midfielder showcased his qualities well in the 17 minutes that he got on the pitch. Lively for the duration of his time on the pitch, he also had a role to play in Salah’s second goal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7/10
Liverpool supporters voiced their delight at seeing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain return as his name was announced during his introduction. Taking confidence from the rousing reception, the Englishman nearly scored moments after coming on and showed some neat touches. Will be a key player next season.
Joe Gomez: N/A
On for the final few minutes, Gomez was a pair of fresh legs as he continues to be eased into the side upon recovering from injury.