Liver­pool put ham­mer down

HAP­LESS HAMMERS HAD NO AN­SWER AT AN­FIELD

The Citizen (KZN) - - FRONT PAGE -

Mo­hamed Salah was on tar­get again as Liver­pool showed they can chal­lenge cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City for the Premier League ti­tle by sweep­ing aside West Ham 4-0 at An­field.

Sa­dio Mane scored twice and Daniel Stur­ridge added a late fourth in an im­pres­sive dis­play by Juer­gen Klopp’s men.

Liver­pool, cham­pi­ons of Eng­land in 1989/90, fin­ished 25 points be­hind City last sea­son.

But af­ter reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal last sea­son and spend­ing more than any­one else in the Premier League in the off-sea­son, there is pal­pa­ble be­lief that the near three-decade wait can come to an end in May.

Mid­fielder Naby Keita and Alis­son were the only debu­tants to start from a re­ported £170 million sum­mer splurge in the trans­fer mar­ket as Fabinho and Xher­dan Shaqiri had to make do with a place on the bench.

How­ever, there was lit­tle tin­ker­ing for Klopp to do up front af­ter Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino com­bined for 91 goals last sea­son, and they again pro­vided the fire­power to out­class a sorry West Ham de­spite a near £100m out­lay on nine new play­ers.

Salah and Mane’s pain at in­ter­na­tional level was Liver­pool’s gain as early ex­its at the World Cup with Egypt and Sene­gal meant they could join the club’s pre-sea­son tour of the United States, un­like a host of Premier League stars who re­turned to train­ing just last week af­ter their ef­forts in Rus­sia.

A rev­e­la­tion in his first sea­son at An­field with 44 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions, Salah is now a marked man.

Yet, he was given the sim­plest of tasks to tap the opener into an empty net on 19 min­utes from Andy Robert­son’s pin­point cross af­ter he was freed down the left by the im­pres­sive Keita.

Salah should have had more as he was well picked out by a burst­ing run by Firmino only to place his shot too close to Lukasz Fabi­an­ski, who also made a bril­liant save to turn Trent Alexan­der-Arnold’s free­kick be­hind.

Fabi­an­ski was by far the busier goal­keeper with the Reds’ £67m sign­ing Alis­son mak­ing just one com­fort­able save and im­press­ing far more with his feet to launch a se­ries of Liver­pool at­tacks.

The hosts fi­nally dou­bled their lead to give the score the half­time re­flec­tion it de­served when an­other teas­ing Robert­son cross was squared by James Mil­ner and Mane was left un­marked to side­foot home.

Mane pro­duced a fine fin­ish for his se­cond eight min­utes af­ter the break af­ter good work by Firmino, but had the lines­man to thank as he some­how wasn’t flagged off­side be­fore beat­ing Fabi­an­ski.

Pic­ture: AFP

BRACE. Liver­pool’s Sa­dio Mane cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing his se­cond goal in their 4-0 drub­bing of West Ham United at An­field yes­ter­day.

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