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Liverpool moved top of the English Premier League on Tuesday, for 24 hours at least, as Mohamed Salah scored twice in a comfortable 4-0 home win over old rivals Manchester United.
Liverpool embarrassed Manchester United for the second time this season after Jurgen Klopp’s men won 5-0 at Old Trafford in October.
Expectations of a similar rout were well-founded as Liverpool exposed the massive gulf between the sides with Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane also on target.
Liverpool moved to 76 points from 32 games, with title rivals Manchester City on 74 points from one game fewer, with Pep Guardiola’s side hosting Brighton and Hove Albion at the Etihad on Wednesday.
Liverpool still needs the English champions to slip up in their remaining seven league games of the season to win the title.
United interim manager Ralf Rangnick forewarned what would happen to his side if they defended as they did in a 3-2 home win over bottom-of-the-table Norwich on Saturday.
The German’s attempt to plug the holes in the United defense was a recall for Phil Jones, making just his second Premier League appearance since January 2020, as part of a back five.
But it took just minutes for the visitors to be cut open after Colombian Luis Diaz gave Liverpool a fifth-minute lead, tapping in from close range after Sadio Mane set Mohamed Salah free down the right and the Egyptian delivered a pinpoint low cross for a simple finish.
Two minutes later, the fierce rivalry between English football’s two most successful clubs was set aside in a show of support for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar was missing for United after revealing that his newborn baby son had died on Monday.
Supporters on all sides of Anfield stood for a minute’s applause, while the Liverpool fans sang their own anthem, “You’ll never walk alone.”
United’s problems got worse in the 10th minute when Paul Pogba limped off injured and with Rangnick’s side struggling to get any foothold in the game, it was no surprise when the home side doubled their advantage.
Mane again provided the spark with a superb first-time pass finding Salah, who having lost his bewildered marker Diogo Dalot, cut in from the right and provided his trademark left-foot finish.
The creator turned finisher in the 68th minute, as Mane made it 3-0 after Andy Robertson broke down the left and then Salah completed the rout five minutes from the end.
Salah has taken his tally for the season to 30, five of which have come in two games against United.
In contrast to the fine margins separating Liverpool and City, a 22-point gap now lies between the league leaders and United in sixth, with only Tottenham and Arsenal’s own failings keeping the Red Devils in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Liverpool is now potentially 10 games away from a first-ever quadruple of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup titles.
And they look set to pounce on any wobble from City in the run-in with their lethal collection of forwards, all in top form.