London (AFP) – Liverpool ended a three-month wait for an away win in the Premier League in record fashion with a 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace on Saturday to move six points clear at the top of the table.
The English champions’ first ever away win in the top-flight by seven goals laid down a marker for the challengers hoping to dethrone Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Liverpool built on the momentum of a last-minute winner that beat second-placed Tottenham in midweek as Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored twice at Selhurst Park, while Takumi Minamino, Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson also netted.
Victory ensured Liverpool will lead the league at Christmas for a third successive season and, on this evidence, will take some catching in the new year.
“We will have a good Christmas,” said Klopp. “The season is not finished unfortunately, there are a few more games to come.”
Due to the late start to the campaign, there are still nearly two-thirds of the season to go, but Liverpool have so far survived an injury crisis and should only get stronger with more players returning and the chance to cover for Virgil Van Dijk’s long-term absence by buying a centre-back in January.
Klopp has repeatedly bemoaned having to play Saturday lunchtime kick-offs after Wednesday night games, but his side suffered no hangover from their exertions against Spurs.
“The boys are capable of that. It will not happen every week but it can happen,” added Klopp. “It just clicked today. After a really intense period for the boys they should be really proud of how they came through that results wise.”
Salah had even been given a rare rest from the start, but his Japanese replacement Minamino took just three minutes to open the scoring when he was teed up by Mane for his first Premier League goal.
Palace had chances to get back into the game as Jordan Ayew wasted a glorious chance as he pounced on an uncharacteristic error from Fabinho, but tried to tee up Wilfried Zaha rather than going for goal himself and played the ball behind the Ivorian.
At the other end, the visitors were ruthless as Mane ended his longest goal drought as a Liverpool player at nine games with an excellent turn and low finish from Firmino’s pass.
A clinical counter-attack made it three before the break as this time Firmino latched onto Andy Robertson’s cross before calmly flicking the ball beyond Vicente Guaita.
“I thought we were ruthless today and took our chances,” said Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who himself curled home the fourth from the edge of the box.
Klopp then took the chance to give Mane a rest, but the Senegalese voiced his frustration at being removed to be replaced by Salah.
The Egyptian played his part for the fifth with the pass into Firmino, who has now scored as many goals in his last two games than his previous 27 Premier League appearances.
Salah then moved to the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts with 13 goals in as many games this season with a late double by heading home from a corner before bending an incredible effort into the top corner.
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