Naby Keita scored on his first Premier League start of the season as Liverpool consolidated their position at the top of table with a comfortable 3-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had given Jurgen Klopp’s side the lead with his first league goal since January 2018 before Keita added a second just before half-time.
Mohamed Salah made it three shortly after the break, and the Reds kept a rare clean sheet, ending a run of 13 matches in all competitions without one.
Liverpool moved 11 points ahead of second-placed Leicester City, who play on Sunday, and 14 clear of champions Manchester City ahead of their derby clash with Manchester United later in the day.
After a low-key start, Bournemouth lost defender Nathan Ake to an apparent hamstring injury following a challenge on Salah just after the half-hour mark.
And Liverpool took full advantage moments later when captain Jordan Henderson lifted a high ball over the top of the reshuffled Bournemouth defence and Oxlade-Chamberlain cushioned a first-time finish past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale
Liverpool suffered an injury setback of their own when Dejan Lovren departed clutching the back of his leg, but the Reds added a second goal on the stroke of half-time.
A superbly crafted team move culminated in Salah’s backheel for Keita, who poked inside the right-hand post.
Liverpool then ended the game as a contest nine minutes into the second period when Jack Simpson lost possession to Keita, who returned the first-half favour and fed Salah to apply a cool finish.
Bournemouth’s day got worse when leading marksman Callum Wilson limped off – also seemingly suffering with a hamstring problem – and Liverpool cruised through to full-time.
What does it mean? More Klopp changes but Reds ruthless
After five changes for the Merseyside derby, Klopp made seven against Bournemouth. It took the Reds a little time to hit their stride, but they comfortably brushed aside the Cherries. With 15 victories and one draw from 16 games, Liverpool have made a superb start to a hectic December, and fans can continue to dream of ending that 30-year wait for a league title.
Keita provides reminder of quality
Guinea midfielder Keita arrived from RB Leipzig with a big reputation and a hefty price tag in 2018 but largely struggled to make an impact in his first season at Anfield. However, he showed he still has a role to play with an assist and goal on his first league start of the season.
Solanke struggles against former club
Bournemouth striker Dominic Solanke might have felt he had a point to prove to Liverpool fans after he left the Reds in January. However, the 22-year-old was in Virgil van Dijk’s pocket for most of the game and struggled to make any kind of impact, with the defender halting his progress with one stunning first-half tackle.
Key Opta Facts
– Bournemouth have become the first side to lose five consecutive top-flight meetings with Liverpool by a margin of three or more goals each time, having lost those five by a combined score of 17-0.
– Liverpool kept their first clean sheet in 14 matches across all competitions since their last shutout away at Sheffield United in September. Indeed, they allowed Bournemouth zero shots on target, only the second time they have done so in a league match since the start of last season (also against Brighton and Hove Albion in January).
– Bournemouth have lost five consecutive games for the very first time in the top flight, last losing as many league matches on the bounce back in March 2013 in League One.
– Mohamed Salah scored his 63rd goal in his 100th Premier League appearance; only Alan Shearer (79), Ruud van Nistelrooy (68) and Sergio Aguero (64) scored more in their first 100 games in the competition.
Liverpool face a crunch trip to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday. The Reds then host Watford in the Premier League next Saturday, with Bournemouth in action on the same day away at Chelsea.