Philippe Coutinho reached double figures for the third straight season with his effort in Liverpool’s win at Bournemouth.
A scintillating solo strike and an assist from Coutinho lifted Jurgen Klopp’s side back up to fourth after successive draws against Everton and West Brom saw the gap to the top three widen.
Coutinho started wide on the left as Sadio Mane was granted a rest under the rotation policy, for which Klopp has come under fire, and the Brazilian quickly set about ensuring the scrutiny of his manager would be minimal with a fine individual goal.
Klopp this week lauded Liverpool’s scouting department for their role in the signing of Mohamed Salah from Roma and they may be expecting further praise after the winger added to Dejan Lovren’s header by slotting his 20th goal of 2017-18 home before half-time.
Simon Mignolet – back between the posts in place of Loris Karius – had little to contend with in the Liverpool goal and the visitors were out of sight when Roberto Firmino nodded Coutinho’s cross home in the second half, though replays suggested he may have been offside.
Salah, Firmino and Coutinho all made way in the second half as Klopp turned his attention to a huge clash with fellow Champions League chasers Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Friday.
With less than 11 minutes played, Nathan Ake was booked for tugging Firmino on the edge of the box and Coutinho saw a sweetly struck free-kick hit the inside of the right-hand upright and bounce away from goal.
The Brazilian was not to be denied at the next attempt, though. Coutinho dribbled at speed down the left, cut inside Simon Francis and slotted a fine effort inside the near post after beating Lewis Cook.
Liverpool added a second six minutes later when Firmino stopped the ball crossing the byline by hooking it into the six-yard box on the volley for Lovren to finish with a diving header.
Klopp’s energetic side had been dominant but eased off before half-time and Bournemouth – who lost Josh King to injury in the 31st minute – would have punished them had Jermain Defoe’s 39th-minute effort not come back off the post.
Asmir Begovic denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah as Liverpool responded positively, and the Reds enhanced their advantage when the Egyptian raced down the outside of Charlie Daniels on the right before shifting the ball onto his left foot and picking out the far corner.
Liverpool struggled to maintain their intensity after the restart until Oxlade-Chamberlain dispossessed former Reds winger Jordon Ibe and unleashed a powerful left-footed strike against the upright.
Defoe was unable to get the better of Mignolet from the edge of the area and Liverpool had maximum points secured when Firmino ghosted into space between two Bournemouth defenders to head Coutinho’s delivery home.
Klopp sent Adam Lallana on in place of Salah for just his second appearance of an injury-plagued season with under 20 minutes remaining.
Danny Ings then hit the side-netting and Lallana looped a stoppage-time header over the posts after Begovic kept out Dominic Solanke, but Liverpool had done enough to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 matches.
-This story originally appeared on FourFourTwo.co.za
You may also like