Liverpool produced a dominant performance to beat Bournemouth and move up to fourth in the Premier League table.
Philippe Coutinho, who had earlier hit the post with a free-kick, put the visitors ahead with a fine individual goal and Dejan Lovren headed in a second six minutes later.
Jermain Defoe hit the post for Bournemouth, but Mohamed Salah made it 3-0 before half-time after an excellent jinking run.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also hit the woodwork before Roberto Firmino headed in from Coutinho’s cross to seal the impressive win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The victory extends Liverpool’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 matches, while Bournemouth have not won in six games.
Sensational Liverpool far too good for Bournemouth
Liverpool only took 20 minutes to break down Bournemouth, and it came from a piece of magic from Coutinho as he scored his fifth goal in as many games.
There looked to be little danger when the Brazilian collected the ball 35 yards out, close to the left touchline, but, with the Bournemouth defenders backtracking, Coutinho was allowed to run at the home defence, before he jinked inside a challenge and slotted the ball past Asmir Begovic.
It became two soon afterwards after some sloppy Bournemouth defending. A corner from the left was flicked on by Georginio Wijnaldum, but the home defence stopped, thinking the ball was going out of play, but Firmino hooked the ball back into the danger zone and an unmarked Lovren scored with a diving header.
In this fixture last season, Bournemouth trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before winning 4-3, but there was no repeat this time around.
Salah got his 11th goal in 11 games, and his 20th of the season with an excellent individual goal to kill the game off after only 44 minutes.
Firmino got the goal he deserved with a diving header for the fourth, although he had looked to be in an offside position, when he met Coutinho’s fine cross.
With the three points wrapped up, Klopp took the opportunity to give some playing time for England midfielder Adam Lallana, who came on for the last 19 minutes for only his second substitute appearance of the season after a thigh injury sustained in the summer.
Bournemouth’s concerns increase
For Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, this was their sixth game without a victory and they remain 16th in the table, only one point above the relegation zone.
Since putting four past Huddersfield on 18 November, the Cherries have only scored four times in six games, and they will be concerned that Joshua King, who netted 17 times in 2016-17, went off injured after only 31 minutes.
Defoe had the best chance for the hosts when he was put through by substitute Junior Stanislas, but, with only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to beat, the England international fired his shot against the foot of the post.
He also forced a fine second-half save from Mignolet, but the hosts struggles in front of goal continue and no Bournemouth player has scored more than three Premier League goals in 2017-18.
It was also another disappointing home performance for a Bournemouth side who have only picked up eight points from their nine matches at the Vitality Stadium this season, with only bottom side Swansea picking up fewer points – seven – from their home games.
Landmark for Salah – the stats
- Bournemouth are winless in their last six league games (drawn three, lost three).
- Mohamed Salah became the first Liverpool player to score 20 goals before Christmas since Ian Rush in 1986-87.
- No side has scored more first-half Premier League goals this season than Liverpool’s 19, although Manchester City have also scored 19 in the first half.
- Bournemouth’s 4-3 win in this fixture 12 months ago is their only triumph in 12 league and cup games against Liverpool (drawn three, lost eight).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last nine games in the Premier League (won six, drawn three) – their best run since an 11-match streak ended in November 2016.
- Jurgen Klopp has made 69 changes to Liverpool’s starting line-up in this season’s Premier League. Last season he only made a total of 54 changes to his starting side in the league all season.
Man of the match – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
After playing Manchester United and now Liverpool, Bournemouth’s tough run of fixtures continues with a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie at Chelsea on Wednesday, 20 December (19:45 GMT), before an away Premier League game at leaders Manchester City on Saturday, 23 December (15:00 GMT).
Liverpool’s next two games both come in the Premier League. Firstly they play away at Arsenal on Friday, 22 December (19:45 GMT) before a home game against Swansea City on Boxing Day (17:30 GMT).
More to follow.