Liverpool defeated Southampton 3-0 in the Premier League to seize on Tottenham’s north London derby defeat, as Mohamed Salah broke a Robbie Fowler record and Philippe Coutinho shone on his return to the starting XI.
Egypt international Salah struck twice in the space of 10 first-half minutes to put the hosts firmly in charge against the lacklustre Saints.
The ex-Chelsea attacker’s exploits have helped to disguise the defensive failings of Jurgen Klopp’s side, although they were not at risk of being exposed by the toothless away team at Anfield on Saturday.
Coutinho, named in the side from kick-off after recovering from a thigh injury, set up Salah’s second and scored the third himself in a performance that demonstrated the continuing importance of a player targeted heavily by Barcelona in the off-season.
And the victory, Liverpool’s fourth in succession in all competitions, means they are just one point behind fourth-placed Champions League qualification rivals Spurs, who lost 2-0 at neighbours Arsenal earlier in the day, as Klopp’s attention turns to the crunch away match against Sevilla on Tuesday.