LONDON: Liverpool swept to a stunning 5-0 win at arch rivals Manchester United as Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick and Paul Pogba’s red card condemned the hosts to one of the darkest days in their history, while West Ham United beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Ten years after Manchester City’s infamous 6-1 victory at Old Trafford, Liverpool inflicted one of the most embarrassing losses United have ever suffered.
It was Liverpool’s biggest win against United since 1925 and moved them seven points clear of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the Premier League table.
Second-placed Liverpool are just one point behind leaders Chelsea as they chase the title — an ambition which looks completely beyond hapless United after this wretched afternoon.
In a telling indictment of United’s capitulation, thousands of fans left Old Trafford well before full-time.
Many supporters even fled before half-time, with those that remained loudly booing Solskjaer and his players.
United are languishing in seventh place after a fourth successive league game without a win, a dismal streak that includes three defeats.
The pressure on Solskjaer will be intense in the coming days as the beleaguered Norwegian faces a fight to cling onto his job.
Liverpool fans rubbed salt into United’s wounds by gleefully chanting “Ole must stay”.
United had ridden their luck several times this season after snatching wins from the jaws of defeat.
But Liverpool were far too accomplished to let United’s flaws at the back go unpunished and they were ahead after less than five minutes.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof were out of position and Salah played through Naby Keita, who slotted home in front of the shell-shocked Stretford End.
Liverpool smelt blood and grabbed a second in the 13th minute when Maguire and Luke Shaw got in tangle, allowing Trent Alexander-Arnold to cross for Diogo Jota to convert from close range.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were rampant and Salah finished off Keita’s cross in the 38th minute.
With United in disarray, Maguire was pulled out of position and Salah struck at the far post in stoppage-time.
Salah was not finished yet and he ran clear to complete his treble in the 50th minute, making him Africa’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League with 106 goals.
The Egypt forward had netted for the 10th successive game in all competitions and was the first away player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Brazil legend Ronaldo in 2003.
Summing up United’s plight, France midfielder Pogba, sent on at half-time, lasted just 15 minutes before being dismissed for a reckless studs-up lunge on Keita.
Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last 22 matches in all competitions, the kind of consistency that United can only dream about.
WEST HAM ROCK SPURS
At the London Stadium, a second-half strike from Michail Antonio gave West Ham their second successive league win and condemned Tottenham to a second consecutive 1-0 loss this week.
Beaten by Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, Tottenham once again failed to produce a cohesive display as West Ham climbed above them into fourth place.
West Ham made the breakthrough in the 72nd minute as Antonio evaded Kane and poked home from Aaron Cresswell’s corner, making it 10 goals in 10 games against Tottenham for the striker.
In Sunday’s other match, Leicester City won 2-1 at Brentford to extend their unbeaten league run to four games.
Youri Tielemans’ 25-yard rocket put Leicester ahead in the 14th minute.
Mathias Jorgensen rose above two markers to head Brentford’s equaliser past Kasper Schmeichel from a near-post corner in the 60th minute.
James Maddison had the perfect response to his critics after a troubled spell as the Leicester midfielder netted in the 73rd minute, tapping into an empty from Patson Daka’s pass for his first goal since February.
In Saturday’s late game, Manchester City cruised to a 4-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion to stay two points behind leaders Chelsea.
City don’t have an out-and-out striker in their squad after failing to sign a like-for-like replacement for Sergio Aguero in the offseason but that isn’t stopping the champions scoring freely this season.
The victory at Brighton, secured mainly thanks to two goals by Phil Foden, followed a 5-1 win at Club Brugge midweek in the Champions League. It was the sixth time in 14 games in all competitions that City has scored three or more goals.
City are in a rich vein of form, especially with Foden taking on the scoring and creative mantle while playing in the false-nine role.
The 21-year-old England international converted a pass from Jack Grealish at the end of a breakaway, then saw a shot from Gabriel Jesus deflect in off his heel to make it 3-0 at halftime, with Ilkay Gundogan having set City on their way with the opener at Brighton.
Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty nine minutes from time gave Brighton some consolation but Foden set up Riyad Mahrez for the fourth goal in second-half stoppage time.
“Phil is a player who can play in different positions but especially up front because he has the quality and precision. He is young and will keep improving,” City boss Pep Guardiola said.
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021