Mohamed Salah scored his first hat-trick since March to help Liverpool to an emphatic victory over Bournemouth and send Jurgen Klopp’s side above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.
Salah was in an offside position when Roberto Firmino hit a 30-yard shot that home keeper Asmir Begovic carelessly pushed out in the direction of the Egypt forward.
Salah’s eighth top-flight goal of the season was allowed to stand by the officials to break the deadlock in a game the visitors dominated for long spells.
There was nothing fortuitous about the Liverpool forward’s second though, a composed finish after driving at the Bournemouth defence, while Steve Cook back-heeled the ball into his own net while attempting a clearance to make it 3-0.
Salah then completed his hat-trick after rounding Begovic, cutting back to beat the Bournemouth keeper for a second time, and poking the ball past Nathan Ake on the line.
Having taken 45 points from the last 51 on offer, Liverpool are now unbeaten in 17 league games in a run stretching back to last season.
After a fifth straight league win, Klopp’s side are one point clear of City, but the reigning champions will return to the summit if they avoid defeat at fourth-placed Chelsea later on Saturday (17:30 GMT).
Salah back to best at start of huge week
The wins keep on coming for Liverpool – and the goals are flowing once again for Salah.
Having successfully negotiated a bruising night at Burnley on Wednesday, Klopp’s side started a huge week by ruthlessly dismantling Bournemouth to keep the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s team.
Salah goes into Tuesday’s Champions League must-win group game with Napoli having marked his return to the starting line-up by emphatically ending a three-match personal run without a goal.
Bournemouth have every right to feel disgruntled about the former Roma player’s first, with television replays clearly showing Salah was offside when Firmino struck the shot that Begovic spilled.
Yet the hosts can have few complaints about his second or third.
Despite Cook’s attempt to bring him down, Salah stayed on his feet to drive at Bournemouth’s defence before producing a calm finish via a slight deflection off Ake.
Cook’s troubled game continued when the Bournemouth number three inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net following a cross by Andrew Robertson, before Salah completed the rout.
After shrugging Cook off the ball following Adam Lallana’s long punt forward, Salah dribbled into the box before tormenting Begovic and slotting home.
While the headlines belong to Salah, Liverpool overcame the absences of injured defensive trio Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne by securing a 10th Premier League clean sheet of the season before next Sunday’s visit of Manchester United to Anfield.
Bournemouth take on Wolverhampton Wanderers (15:00 GMT) next Saturday while Liverpool have back-to-back home games against Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday (20:00) and Manchester United in the Premier League next Sunday (16:00).
More to follow.