LIVERPOOL (Agencies): Mohamed Salah struck four times in rampant Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford that lifted them back into third spot in the Premier League on Saturday.
The unstoppable Egyptian needed only four minutes to put his side in front and he doubled his tally just before halftime. He set up Roberto Firmino for a cheeky effort early in the second half before placing a shot through a crowd of Watford defenders to complete his first Liverpool hat-trick.
There was no respite for Watford at a snowy Anfield as the clinical Salah smashed in his fourth goal in the 85th minute — from his fourth shot on target. Salah’s majestic display moved him four goals clear of Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot, with 28, and his 36 in all competitions is the most by a Liverpool player in a debut season for the club.
Liverpool have 63 points from 31 games, two more than Tottenham Hotspur who have played 30. More importantly, they are now seven points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea in the tussle for the top four and Champions League qualification. “The goals we scored were unbelievably good, and the boys didn’t stop. That’s how football should be, so I’m really happy with the performance,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.
“For Mo to be involved in five goals is fantastic but to score four is even more fantastic.” Salah is the first Liverpool player to score four goals in a league match since Luis Suarez in 2013 and it took him only four minutes to get started, firing in after his ball control and pace left Watford’s defence floundering.
Liverpool, who needed a positive response after losing to Manchester United last week, went off the boil for much of the first half but Salah tapped in Andy Robertson’s cross close to halftime to move past the 33 goals scored by Fernando Torres in his first season at Anfield in 2007-08.
When his cross picked out Firmino who finished with his back to goal for Liverpool’s third in the 49th minute it was a matter of how many the hosts would score. Salah sealed his hat-trick when he wriggled into the area and stabbed the ball past Watford keeper Orestis Karnezis and added his side’s fifth when he pounced to smash home a loose ball after another fine Liverpool move.
Watford had decent spells in the first half and Roberto Pereyra did strike the crossbar with a second-half free kick, but they were easy pickings for Klopp’s slick side. Defeat left Watford in 11th spot, a comfortable eight points above the relegation zone.
“It was a real tough day for the whole team — 5-0 is a pretty embarrassing scoreline,” Watford defender Adrian Mariappa said. “Today Salah was on it and he punished us.”