TO SALAH

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - By Tom Hop­kin­son

Be­govic 5; Fran­cis 5, Cook 4, Ake 5, Daniels 5 (Rico 82nd); Brooks 6 (Mous­set

(64th) 5), Lerma 6, Sur­man 5, Stanis­las 5 (Mings

82nd); King 5, Fraser 6

AS Steve Cook found out, not even the dark­est de­fen­sive arts can stop magic man Mo Salah when he is in this form.

Bournemouth were al­ready trail­ing to a Salah strike, which should have been ruled out for off­side, when the Egyp­tian ace got in be­hind the home de­fence soon af­ter half-time.

Cook re­sorted to one of the old­est tricks in the book, rak­ing his studs down the Liver­pool man’s Achilles ten­don.

It was the sort of chal­lenge that would have seen plenty of oth­ers go down look­ing for a foul and scream­ing in pain.

But not Salah. He stayed on his feet, stead­ied him­self and slot­ted a fine fin­ish past As­mir Be­govic.

Salah did not bother with a cel­e­bra­tion and in­stead chose to give Cook the death stare.

Not that the de­fender was look­ing. His head was bowed as he came to terms with the fact he’d been done by one of the best play­ers in our game.

Poor old

Cook had a tor­rid time try­ing to keep the

Reds for­ward at bay.

His mis­ery was com­pounded when he turned home Andy Robert­son’s cross into his own net to make it 3-0.

It was some fin­ish from the de­fender – a Gian­franco Zola-es­que back-heel which left Be­govic with no chance.

Cook was not fin­ished there, though, and lunged at Adam Lal­lana’s through-ball which pushed it into Salah’s path.

The Kop ace put Be­govic on his back­side twice be­fore com­plet­ing his hat-trick with a non­cha­lant flick.

Bournemouth boss Ed­die Howe (above) said: “Salah was very good, ra­zor-sharp. We did strug­gle to han­dle him – he’s one of the best in the world.”

What’s more, Salah did not even look as if he was try­ing.

Cook wasn’t the only Cher­ries player off colour and even if Cal­lum Wil­son – ruled out with a ham­string in­jury – had been avail­able there is lit­tle chance the out­come would have been dif­fer­ent.

This vic­tory made it 17 games un­beaten for Liver­pool and was a great way for James Mil­ner, who was handed the cap­tain’s arm­band, to cel­e­brate his 500th Pre­mier League game.

The two-time ti­tle win­ner has played with some won­der­ful tal­ents in a fine ca­reer and it is un­likely he will rate too many higher than Salah.

Bournemouth looked jit­tery early on and sev­eral times Liver­pool’s high press­ing forced turnovers.

Jur­gen Klopp’s men were oc­ca­sion­ally guilty of gift­ing their hosts pos­ses­sion but as soon as they went ahead there was only ever one side in it.

Roberto Firmino ex­changed passes with Salah and then un­leashed a 25-yard shot which Be­govic could only parry.

Salah was quick­est to re­act as he fired past the keeper.

Howe was un­der­stand­ably frus­trated af­ter re­plays showed Salah was just off­side when Firmino struck his ef­fort.

He said: “The first goal had a mas­sive bear­ing on the game be­cause at that mo­ment we were okay, our shape was good.

“Liver­pool hadn’t opened us up at that point and the goal should not have stood.

“We got our­selves back into the game and I thought it was well set up for us. Then we started to make some in­di­vid­ual mis­takes that re­ally hurt us.” Salah walked away with the match ball but not the man of the match award af­ter in­sist­ing Mil­ner de­served it more for his im­pres­sive num­ber of top-flight games.

The Leeds-born mid­fielder – who played at right-back for the Reds af­ter the mid­week in­jury to Joe Gomez – has also starred for his home­town club as well as New­cas­tle, As­ton Villa and Manch­ester City.

Salah said: “I just have to con­grat­u­late Mil­ner for his amaz­ing ca­reer.

“I hope I have more games like this in my ca­reer but I will not take the award.

“I scored three goals, we went to the top of the ta­ble and kept a clean sheet.

“It was a fan­tas­tic re­sult and I en­joyed the last goal the most. I was calm.

“I know ev­ery­one has high ex­pec­ta­tions for me but the most im­por­tant thing is to win each game and keep this run of form go­ing.”

Liver­pool man­ager Klopp was de­lighted with the re­sult and was full of praise for his Egypt ace who has been crit­i­cised for not yet reach­ing the heights of last sea­son.

Klopp said: “What­ever you do in a foot­ball game you need some­body to fin­ish it off and what Mo did around his two goals in the sec­ond half was just ex­cep­tional.

“I don’t know at the mo­ment a lot of play­ers who would have scored these two goals.

“The first one is a foul but he wants to score goals and stands on his feet and scores it.

“His third goal is out­stand­ing again. How he set it up, that was good.”

Alis­son 6; Mil­ner 7, Matip 6, Van Dijk

7, Robert­son 7; Shaqiri 7 (Mane (64th) 6), Wi­j­nal­dum

7, Fabinho 7, Keita 7 (Lal­lana (64th) 6); Salah 9, Firmino 7 (Hen­der­son 80th) Mo Salah L Ma­son Wolves (A), Dec 15 Napoli (H), Dec 11

BOURNEMOUTH: LIVER­POOL: STAR MAN:REF: Bournemouth’s next game: Liver­pool’s next game: ■BOURNE TO SCORE: Salah sticks away his sec­ond goal of the day ■THREE & EASY: Mo flicks the ball past Ake for his third strike

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