Manager Jurgen Klopp said it is “crazy” the amount of goals Liverpool have scored this season after an “exceptional” 3-0 victory over Bournemouth took their tally up to 121 in all competitions.
He added that their display ended an “outstanding week” as Mohamed Salah scored his 30th Premier League goal to help Liverpool move to within a point of second-placed Manchester United.
The hosts made the perfect start when Sadio Mane followed up his own header to prod the ball past Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic.
Salah then nonchalantly headed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass over Begovic in the 69th minute for his 40th goal of the season in all competitions – the first player to achieve that figure for Liverpool since Ian Rush in 1986-87.
Klopp, who said his team were “like lions”, said any initial reservations over Salah – a £34m signing from Roma last summer – had been dispelled.
“When you saw him playing in Rome there was this last question around him: if you don’t play in England, you can’t say yes because it is more physical.
“But there was a moment when we said, ‘yes he is kind of smart and he doesn’t need to look like a bodybuilder’.
“It’s completely normal that a boy in that situation wants to be top of the scoring list, the golden boot. But we cannot force it; so, pass, shoot, pass, shoot, that’s the normal thing to do.”
Roberto Firmino confirmed a fifth win in six games for the Reds with his 15th league goal of the campaign, prompting Klopp to describe their goalscoring record as ‘impressive.’
“What a number. Wow! That’s really good but we have to carry on, there are a few games to come,” Klopp said.
Bournemouth, who did not test Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius until Andrew Surman’s late shot, remain 11th on 38 points.
“We played a very good team today – one of the best in Europe – and they are showing that,” said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.
Liverpool beat Premier League leaders Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate to reach the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday.
But the hosts found a rhythm and intensity that Bournemouth struggled to match.
During a dominant first half, Liverpool created 10 goalscoring opportunities to Bournemouth’s one, and by full-time Liverpool had made 618 passes to the visitors’ 375.
The only downside of an otherwise trouble-free match for the Reds was an injury to Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, who limped off in the 83rd minute.
Salah closes on Rush record
Before Saturday, Julian Dicks was the last Liverpool player to score at Anfield on the day of a Grand National, in 1994, but Salah’s appearance on the scoresheet against Bournemouth had an air of inevitability about it.
The Egypt forward has now netted eight goals in his past five games and is closing in on Liverpool’s record of 47, set by Rush in 1983-84.
However, while it took Rush 65 games to reach his total, Salah has currently played 20 fewer games.
The 25-year-old’s goals and assists have earned Liverpool 15 points this term – more than any other Premier League player – and he is regarded as a strong contender for the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year award.
Liverpool’s front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino have scored 83 goals this season in all competitins, while the Reds have managed 300 goals in 148 games under Klopp.
While Bournemouth were overrun by a Liverpool performance brimming with energy, Lewis Cook’s showing was one bright spot for the visitors.
Cook, who made his England debut in the 1-1 draw against Italy in March, exuded calmness in midfield, a sign of his growing maturity since joining the Cherries from Leeds as a 19-year-old in 2016.
Bournemouth have earned 18 points from losing positions this season – more than any other team in the Premier League – but not even Cook’s best efforts could rally his team-mates into a recovery on Saturday.
However, at the time of his 73rd-minute substitution, he had covered 9.16km – the second-biggest distance of any visiting player at Anfield in 2017-18.
Man of the match – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool)
‘We have to stay angry’ – what they said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on BBC Sport: “A good performance – and a very, very, very, very important one after an outstanding week.
“Today it felt like a parade with people in their cars using the horn – wow. But we have to stay angry.
“We played Bournemouth, the rest was a few days ago and I said a few times our whole lives is Champions League qualification, so these games are all so important.
“We scored one but had chance after chance with really good football against a side full of confidence – good footballers, quick on the counter-attack – which makes your life really uncomfortable.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe on BBC Sport: “At half-time we were in the game but their second goal came out of the blue – the ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah’s header were unbelievable.
“We were kicking ourselves really because we always believed we could come back if there was one goal in it.
“That is the individual quality they possess. You won’t see a better goal than that this weekend, a real team goal. It gave us a mountain to climb.
“We had chances after that, didn’t take them and the third goal was unfair on us.
“We wanted to stay in the game and have a go at them late in the match – at 2-0 that is a lot more difficult. I was pleased there were signs we could compete but it came too late.”
First African to score 30 Premier League goals – the stats
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their past 19 Premier League home games, the longest current run in the division, and the Reds’ longest run since August 2009 (31 games).
- Bournemouth have enjoyed just one win in their past 11 Premier League away games, drawing six and losing four.
- Mane is now the outright top scoring Senegalese player in Premier League history, netting 44 goals in the competition and eclipsing Demba Ba (43).
- Of players to have hit 10 or more goals in all of their Premier League seasons, only Sergio Aguero (seven) and Eric Cantona (five) have done it more often than Mane (four).
- Salah is the eighth different player to score 30 or more goals in a single Premier League season – he is also the first African to do so.
- Salah is also only the third different player in Liverpool history to score 40 or more goals in all competitions in a single season, after Roger Hunt (1961-62) and Ian Rush (1983-84 and 1986-87).
- Firmino has had a hand in five goals in his past five Premier League games against Bournemouth (three goals, two assists).
Liverpool travel to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion next Saturday, 21 April (12:30 BST) while Bournemouth host Manchester United on Wednesday, 18 April (19:45 BST).