By Matthew Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Liverpool romped their way past Huddersfield on Friday night, beating the already-relegated Yorkshire side 5-0 at Anfield.
Naby Keita opened the scoring with Liverpool’s quickest ever Premier League goal after only 15 seconds, before Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah both netted a brace to take their league totals to 20 and 21 league goals respectively – putting them first and second in the Premier League goal-scoring charts.
Jürgen Klopp made two changes to the side that overcame a stubborn Cardiff side at the weekend. Daniel Sturridge made only his third Premier League start of the season as he came in for Roberto Firmino. The second and final change came at centre back, with Joel Matip losing out to Dejan Lovren. There was also good news on the bench for the Reds, as after a year side-lined with injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to the first team squad – earning a place on the bench.
There was a delay to the proceedings at Anfield as a minute silence was held for former Red Tommy Smith. The former defender, who passed away earlier in the month, played over 400 games for the club, winning multiple honours including Liverpool’s first ever European Cup/Champions League.
The spirit of Tommy Smith was certainly looking down on his former side, as the Reds took the lead after 15 seconds through Keita.
From kick-off, Huddersfield passed back to their keeper and it all derailed from there. Jonas Lossl calmly rolled it out to Jon Gorenc-Stankovic who got caught in possession. Keita proceeded to rob the ball off the midfielder before passing to Salah and continuing his run. The Egyptian fed it back to the Guinean who swivelled and directed his shot low and to the corner, with the ball bobbling off the post and into the net.
The goal marks the third time in five games where the number eight has got onto the scoresheet, as well as breaking a record for Liverpool’s quickest goal in the Premier League.
After scoring so early on, many would have thought that the Reds would have taken the game by the scruff of the neck and dominated.
However, this couldn’t have been further from the truth as Liverpool struggled to merely keep possession for the next 10 minutes, with Huddersfield pushing forward and causing particular danger down Liverpool’s right flank.
After coming through the wave of Huddersfield pressure unscathed, Liverpool began to retain possession and ping the ball around the pitch, ultimately doubling their lead in the 23rdminute.
An attack which originated from a driving midfield run by Virgil Van Dijk saw the towering centre back play the ball wide to Andrew Robertson. The Scotland captain proceeded to pick his spot and add to his assist tally for the season, as he curled a cross onto the head of the Mané who rose unmarked and dispatched the ball clinically as he has done all season.
After scoring the second goal, Liverpool did push on and dominated the rest of the half – keeping possession well and threatening Lossl’s goal on more than one occasion. It looked like the Reds were going to go into half time leading 2-0, but they added a third in injury time through Salah.
Liverpool’s goal-scorers again had their wing backs to thank for the assists, as the final ball came courtesy of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The young full-back lifted his head on the half way line and spotted his number 11 darting inside. A pinpoint curling effort over the top took Huddersfield’s defenders out the game. As Salah arrived, he dinked the ball over on-rushing Lossl to score on his 100th Liverpool appearance.
The goal also takes the Egyptian to the top spot of the Premier League goal-scoring chart with 20 for the season.
At half-time the hosts were leading 3-0.
The start of the second half saw Huddersfield put pressure on the Liverpool goal and even tested Alisson, who had remained unchallenged for the entirety of the first half.
In the 53rd minute, a Salah cross saw Sturridge nestle the ball into the bottom corner of the Huddersfield net. As the striker pounced to his feet to celebrate his goal-scoring return, the linesman’s flag went up and Kevin Friend blew for offside.
Liverpool didn’t have long to wait for a fourth however, with Mané getting his second of the game in the 66th minute. This time assisted by club captain Jordan Henderson, the skipper picked the ball up on the edge of the area before curling a cross to the back post where he found the Senegalese hitman. The number 10 again climbed high and headed the ball across goal and into the side netting.
The goal sees Mané join Salah at the top of the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 20 goals each.
Having a four goal lead and with 17 minutes left to play, Klopp turned to his bench and introduced Oxlade-Chamberlain for the first time since April 2018 – to a standing ovation from the Anfield faithful.
It didn’t take long for the Ox to get stuck into the game, and he almost found the net within minutes of his return. Good link up play with Salah saw the English midfielder played burst through the lines and into the box. A couple flicks and tricks saw him beat his marker and turn onto his left foot. Unfortunately, the connection with the ball wasn’t what he would have been hoping for as he saw it trickle into the arms of Lossl.
Again Liverpool didn’t have long to wait until the ball was back in the net, as Anfield celebrated Salah’s second of the game in the 83rd minute.
Xherdan Shaqiri, who replaced Sturridge, squeezed the ball into the path of Robertson who notched his 11th assist of the season. The marauding left back simply drilled the ball across goal where the Egyptian was waiting to tap into the empty net. The goal sees Salah seal yet another record, as he is now the player to score the most goals in their first 100 appearances for Liverpool with 69 to his name.
The fifth goal was the final of the evening, as Liverpool kept hold of possession well as the clock winded down.
Liverpool’s next game sees them travel to the Camp Nou on Wednesday night when they take on Barcelona in their first leg of the Champions League Semi-Finals.