BOURNEMOUTH: Jurgen Klopp hailed Mohamed Salah after his hat-trick against Bournemouth on Saturday propelled Liverpool to the top of the Premier League, ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Chelsea.
The Egyptian opened his account midway through the first half, netting the rebound after Asmir Begovic parried Roberto Firmino’s fierce shot.
He doubled Liverpool’s lead shortly after half-time with a neat finish and following a Steve Cook own goal, scored his 10th goal of the Premier League season after beating Begovic twice to complete a 4-0 win.
Klopp described Salah’s performance as “brilliant.”
“The whole game was brilliant from him today — not only the goals,” he told the BBC. “He wanted to help with runs in behind and him scoring three goals is big for him and very important for us.
“It was really nice. Mo Salah scores that goal (the second one) and I don’t think many do in that situation.
“The third goal was again brilliant. It is really cool and it helps of course! We played nice football and the players we brought on did really well.
“It is clear that everyone knows about the quality of Bournemouth. We had to keep the ball and win the ball back as quickly as possible. We did both very often but not always as they had their moments too, of course.
But Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was unhappy with one of Salah’s goals being allowed to stand.
“I have many complaints. He (Mohamed Salah) was offside for the first goal. It has a huge bearing on the match. We were fine until that moment. It changes the game,” he said.
“It was difficult for us losing Callum Wilson. We have to deal with players who aren’t here and can’t use that as an excuse. We still had a competitive team on the pitch.
“The first goal is key and then we made some mistakes at bad times.
“At half-time I thought we were well in this match. I expected a very different second half. We just had to manage the score-line. It is a tough league. We are disappointed as it’s another game that has gone away from us.”
Salah was awarded the man of the match award afterwards, but decided against receiving it — instead handing it to team-mate James Milner who celebrated his 500th Premier League game at Bournemouth.
On his own performance, Salah said: “Not a bad way to be back in the goals at all. Top of the table and three goals, it was a fantastic win today. Also, as (James) said, a clean sheet too.”
When asked which of the three goals he enjoyed scoring the most, the Egyptian striker said: “The last one, it was a good one and I was calm.
“My expectations are high, but so are everybody else’s. As I said before, the most important thing is that we are top of the table,” he added.
Liverpool face a tough week ahead — they play Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday with their hopes of progressing to the knockout phase in the balance and Manchester United next weekend.
“It is always a huge week,” said Klopp. “Napoli is a tough one and then Man United — we all know what can happen there. Hopefully we can stay fit. Let’s go for it.”
Meanwhile, United took advantage of Bournemouth's defeat and Everton not being in action till Monday to rise up to sixth by ending a four-game winless run in the league with a comfortable victory over bottom club Fulham.
Jose Mourinho again rang the changes, but continued to leave Paul Pogba on the bench.
And it was three of those introduced to the side from Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Arsenal that scored in the first-half with Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku on target.
"We were strong, aggressive and intense," said a happy Mourinho. "At times it was beautiful football. The first-half was perfect."
Aboubakar Kamara's penalty pulled a goal back for Fulham, but any hope of a fightback from the visitors was ended by a red card for Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Marcus Rashford added a fourth for the hosts.
Arsenal are still yet to lead a Premier League game at half-time this season, but again came good late on when Torreira acrobatically met Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's cross to lift the Gunners above north London rivals Tottenham into third.
Ralph Hasenhüttl's start to life as Southampton manager got off to a terrible start as Callum Paterson scored the winner in a 1-0 victory to move Cardiff up to 14th and three points clear of the bottom three.
Burnley also moved out of the drop zone courtesy of a first win in nine games as James Tarkowski scored the only goal to beat Brighton 1-0.
West Ham recorded a third straight win to move into the top half by coming from behind to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 thanks to second-half goals from Robert Snodgrass, Javier Hernandez and Felipe Anderson.