Mo’s hat-trick mojo as Reds get taste of top spot
LIVERPOOL maintained their best start to a season as Mo Salah, back at his dazzling best, scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Bournemouth that took them, temporarily at least, to the top of the Premier League yesterday.
Salah set them on their way in the 25th minute, after Roberto Firmino’s 30-metre shot was palmed into his path by Asmir Begovic, although replays showed the Egyptian to be marginally offside when he pounced. For his second strike, after the interval, Firmino freed him to fire into the corner.
After the Steve Cook diverted Andy Robertson’s cross past Begovic for an own goal, Salah outmuscled Cook before slotting home late on.
Salah’s treble at the Vitality Stadium put him on 10 league goals this season, matching Arsenal’s Pierre-emerick Aubameyang at the top of the scoring charts that he dominated last season. Against seventh-placed opponents, Juergen Klopp’s side went a 17th straight league match unbeaten, equalling their club record set 10 years ago, and emulated the 4-0 thrashing of the Cherries in the corresponding fixture last season. Liverpool’s James Milner celebrated becoming only the 13th player to make 500 top-flight appearances in the Premier League era.
Salah even gave his own man-of-the match award to his 32-year-old team mate to mark his achievement.
“He’s had an amazing career. I have to congratulate him on an amazing career - he deserves this today,” Salah told Milner on Sky Sports. “I will not take it.”
As he clutched the match ball after his second Liverpool hat-trick, the Egyptian added: “It wasn’t a bad way at all (to get back among the goals)...i enjoyed the last one the most. I was calm.”
Now getting back into his most imperious stride after a slow start to the campaign, Salah added: “My expectations are very high.
“I know everyone else’s expectations of me are also very high but the most important thing is for us to win each game and be top of the table.”
For Milner, it was a special afternoon after 16 years of excellence in the Premier League. “It’s the perfect way to celebrate it (the 500th appearance),” he said. “It wasn’t our best performance of the season by any means but we were efficient, got the job done and this fella (Salah) is unbelievable. He can win you a game on his own.”
Meanwhile, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he has received assurances from the club’s hierarchy that they will not be banned from the Champions League over allegations of a breach of Uefa Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
European football’s governing body are investigating allegations made in German publication last month that City’s Abu Dhabi owners inflated sponsorship agreements in order to comply with FFP requirements. In response, Premier League champions City said information had been “hacked” and that they were victims of an “organised and clear” attempt to damage the club’s reputation. Punishment for clubs found guilty of breaking the rules could extend to being excluded from the Champions League.
Guardiola said he was calm about the situation. “We will not be banned, no. That’s what I think because I trust in my chairman (Khaldoon al-mubarak), with my CEO (Ferran Soriano), what they have explained to me. I trust in them,” the Spaniard was quoted as saying by British media.
“If it happens, because Uefa decide that, we will accept it and move forward.” | Reuters
AT A GLANCE
AFC Bournemouth 0, Liverpool 4; Arsenal v Huddersfield Town; Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion; Cardiff City v Southampton; Man United v Fulham; West Ham v Crystal Palace; Chelsea v Man City; Leicester City v Tottenham
Newcastle v Wolves (6pm SA time kick-off)