Liverpool moved a step closer to clinching their first title in the Premier League era with a resounding 4-0 triumph over Crystal Palace.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delightful free-kick midway through the first-half set Jurgen Klopp’s side on the way as they maintained their 100 per cent league record at Anfield this season.
A 16th straight home victory in the competition in 2019-20, albeit this one coming inside an empty stadium due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was wrapped up just prior to half-time by the returning Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool will now wait to see if Manchester City keep them waiting into July to end a 30-year wait to be crowned champions again; Pep Guardiola’s side must win at Chelsea on Friday (AEST) to remain in the hunt, mathematically at least.
Palace were the last away team to triumph at Anfield in the Premier League, back in April 2017, though hopes of a repeat suffered an early blow when an already depleted visiting line-up lost the talismanic Wilfried Zaha to injury.
Their cause was also not helped either by facing opponents clearly determined to do better after a Monday stalemate against neighbours Everton.
Georginio Wijnaldum had already spurned a glorious opportunity before Alexander-Arnold’s sublime set-piece strike broke the deadlock, the full-back lifting the ball over the Palace wall and beyond Wayne Hennessey’s desperate dive.
Fabinho’s delightful pass picked out Salah’s run in behind to lift the ball over the Palace goalkeeper in the 44th minute, while the Brazilian went for power to thump in a stunning third from distance 10 minutes into the second half.
Sadio Mane rounded out the scoring when Salah’s through-ball allowed him a clear run on goal before steering a low shot past Hennessey. Job done for Liverpool, meaning their attention now switches to what happens at Stamford Bridge.
The 30-year wait is almost over. Pedestrian in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on their return after a three-month hiatus, Liverpool were far more up to speed back on the other side of Stanley Park.
City will have a major say in when exactly a title race that turned into a procession long ago officially comes to an end, just not quite in the way they might have hoped.
In case anyone needed reminding, Salah demonstrated his importance to Liverpool. An unused substitute at the weekend due to a fitness concern, the Egyptian made it 15 home goals in the Premier League season.
While Salah and Mane scored, the other member of Liverpool’s formidable frontline once again drew a blank at Anfield. Roberto Firmino is not all about goals, of course, but his last at home in the league was way back in March 2019, against Tottenham.
Liverpool have time to recover before they travel to the Etihad Stadium on July 3. Palace are in action prior to then, however, welcoming Burnley to Selhurst Park on June 30.
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