LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool turned up the pressure on English Premier League leader Chelsea by coasting to a second successive 4-0 victory at Anfield, with Southampton the overpowered team this time.
Southampton was dispatched on Saturday as comfortably as Arsenal was a week ago as Jurgen Klopp’s side moved within a point of Chelsea, in the process becoming the first top-flight team to score two or more goals for 17 straight matches in all competitions since Sunderland in 1927.
Liverpool has scored 39 times in 13 matches and no player has more Premier League goals individually this season than any of the starting front three — Mohamed Salah (11), Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota (both seven).
Jota added a couple to his tally from a combined distance of seven yards, midfielder Thiago Alcantara made it two in two games shortly before halftime off a deflected strike, and Virgil van Dijk killed off any fanciful hopes of a Southampton comeback just after the break.
It was the perfect preparation heading into a midweek Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park, which marks a reunion with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.
The trend for Southampton, however, remains a downward one after last week’s loss at Norwich.
Only three league wins all season leaves the team five points above the bottom three.
Southampton had not won at Anfield since 2013 or scored on its last five visits so the omens were not good, but conceding the fastest goal of the Premier League season — after just 97 seconds — was the worst possible start.
The returning Andy Robertson, who was one of six changes from the midweek Champions League win over Porto, resumed his marauding left back role after not starting the last two matches because of injury.
He combined with Mane down the left to get to the byline and pull back a cross for Jota to score from close range.
Mane’s header from Robertson’s free kick was ruled out for offside while Salah curled a shot wide of the far post after robbing Mohammed Salisu on the edge of the area.
After Jordan Henderson ballooned over a good chance, Jota doubled his tally in the 32nd minute with the 700th goal of Klopp’s tenure after Southampton was cut open down its right side this time.
Thiago’s ambitious cross-field pass was recovered by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who fed Salah. He collected a clever return pass from Henderson and slid a low cross which Jota could not miss.
The Portugal international was denied a first half hat trick by a block from Lyanco but the Southampton defender could only deflect in the ball when Thiago blasted a shot from just inside the area moments later after a delicious drop of the shoulder opened up the space.
But for all its superiority in the final third, Klopp’s side was still leaving the back door open, and had the visitors been sharper they would have had something to show for their first-half efforts.
Armando Broja was denied by Alisson Becker after nipping in front of, and outpacing, Ibrahima Konate while Liverpool’s goalkeeper saved well down to his right to deny the unmarked Adam Armstrong, who looked certain to score.
Mane’s visible annoyance when Salah failed to find neither him nor Jota in a three-on-two break indicated there would be no letting up. And shortly after halftime, the fourth goal duly arrived courtesy of a low volley by Van Dijk from Alexander-Arnold’s right-wing corner.
Konate’s sliding block and recovery to deny Armstrong, together with Alisson, from a Saints counterattack preserved a third successive clean sheet.
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The Associated Press