‘All-time great’ Salah keeps Liverpool in top four hunt
Mohamed Salah’s landmark goal sealed Liverpool’s 1-0 win against Brentford to keep their Premier League top four hopes alive on Saturday.
The Egypt forward’s first half finish made him the first player in Liverpool history to net in nine successive games at Anfield, with his strike taking him to 100 career goals at the stadium.
He also moved level with Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool tally of 186 goals, sitting in joint fifth place in the club’s all-time scoring list.
For the third season in a row, Salah has reached 30 goals in all competitions.
“Mohamed Salah is special. A lot of people don’t appreciate players when they are still playing. For us, it’s clear. He is an all-time great,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said.
“I can’t see him stopping, that’s just his nature. You need to have this desire to score goals.
“He works hard to close players down. We all know some world class players don’t do that, but he does. I’m really proud of him.”
Klopp’s fifth placed team climbed within one point of fourth placed Manchester United after their sixth successive league victory.
United’s defeat at Brighton in midweek has given Liverpool renewed hope of qualifying for the Champions League via a top four berth.
But United, who travel to West Ham on Sunday, have two games in hand and remain favourites to finish above their bitter rivals.
“If Manchester United win their games in hand, then they are seven points away and it is pretty much done. We know that,” Klopp said.
“It’s an interesting period. We have to make sure we keep the teams behind us, behind us because they are coming. Nothing is decided and that’s good.”
Salah’s memorable evening was partially overshadowed by the Liverpool fans who booed the national anthem just hours after the coronation ceremony for King Charles III at Westminster Abbey.
Liverpool said on Friday they would play the anthem prior to kick-off despite acknowledging “some supporters have strong views” on the subject.
As “God Save the King” was played, boos and jeers were eventually drowned out by chants of “Liverpool” from the home fans.
Liverpool supporters have repeatedly booed the anthem in recent years, most notably ahead of last season’s FA Cup final.
UK government plans to leave the city to “managed decline” in the 1980s and the cover-up that followed the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which caused the death of 97 Liverpool fans, have been cited as reasons for anti-establishment protest.
– Klopp’s ‘joy again’ –
Once the focus switched from the dissenters in the stands to the action on the pitch, Liverpool showed why Klopp says coaching “is a joy again” after their recent revival.
Liverpool were beaten 3-1 at Brentford in January in the midst of a dismal spell that encapsulated their largely disappointing season.
They are a more cohesive unit now and Salah opened the scoring with his landmark goal in the 13th minute.
Fabinho’s lofted pass was headed back across goal by Virgil van Dijk and Salah was on hand to stab home from close-range.
Darwin Nunez missed a sitter when he scuffed wide from close-range after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s lofted pass split the Brentford defence.
Brentford threatened to punish Nunez’s profligacy when Ivan Toney whistled a free-kick just wide from 30 yards.
Bryan Mbeumo thought he had equalised after accelerating away from Van Dijk to slot past Alisson Becker, but the goal was disallowed for a tight offside call.
Liverpool were unbeaten in their last 122 Premier League matches when leading at half-time.
Cody Gakpo should have put them closer to maintaining that streak when he somehow missed from close-range after Diogo Jota’s pass presented him with a glorious chance.
In a second half with little rhythm due to endless fouls by both teams, Gakpo blasted narrowly wide as Liverpool nervously hung onto their lead.