Liverpool restored their lead at the top of the Premier League table to eight points with a 5-2 Merseyside win over Everton at Anfield.
A brace from Divock Origi and further goals from Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Xherdan Shaqiri gave the much changed Reds the win in a flowing game of football. The victory was the 100th in the Premier League reign of Jurgen Klopp in his 159th game as the manager of the European Champions.
Everton, tactically braver than in recent trips to Anfield, notched goals through Michael Keane and Richarlison but were blown away by the intensity of the European Champions. On another night, the scoreline could have easily read 6/7-2 with the hosts guilty of missing ample good chances.
Klopp elected to shuffle his pack and his team selection saw several changes from the victory over Brighton last time out. In came Adrian for the suspended Alisson as well as Adam Lallana, Origi, Shaqiri and James Milner, with Mane the only regular member of the famous front three starting.
There was no lack of synergy, however, as the Reds exploded into — and into the lead — life on the six minute mark.
A rapid counter attack saw Andy Robertson find Mane and the Senegalese, with all the skill and vision of a playmaker, delicately slid Origi in behind Everton’s defence. Not panicking, the Belgian rounded Jordan Pickford and finished into an empty net to complete a beautifully crafted goal.
The role of creator was clearly one Mane enjoyed and he turned provider again soon after, this time for Shaqiri. A brilliant weighted, arching pass from the forward found the Swiss international’s outside to in run and he caressed the ball past Pickford for 2-0.
The visitors, who the pre match speculation suggested the result would have a baring on their manager, Marco Silva, future, began pressing for a goal back and it arrived in the twenty first minute. Reacting well in the box from a second phase off a set piece, England international Michael Keane finished well over Adrian to claw Everton back into the game.
The Blues bubble was burst ten minutes later, however, when Origi completed his brace with when he finished with aplomb after being sent behind from a long ball from the back. A recurring feature of Liverpool’s play all night was their centre halves, Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk, looking to play long passes over the top of Everton’s backline and this approach bore fruit for the Belgian’s second goal.
Lovren’s accurate pass from distance was brilliantly controlled by the forward who then, as cool as ice, lifted it over Pickford for 3-1.
The deluge of goals continued, though, and the Goodison Park men were next up. After Milner lost the ball in midfield, Everton broke and Lucas Digne’s accurate cross was nodded in by Richarlison to provide hope for their first Anfield win since 1999 at 3-2.
The first half goals weren’t down there and Mane, shifting from creator to scorer, netted next. Trent Alexander Arnold, in a counter attack from an Everton corner, powerfully ran from just outside his own box to Everton’s. With both Shaqiri and Mane as options with the Blues exposed, the England international picked out Liverpool’s number 10 and, left footed, Mane beautifully curled past Pickford from just outside the box.
Klopp’s half time team talk clearly worked as the Reds, switching to a 4231, managed the game much better and ceded very little in terms of chances.
Henderson, a late substitute, should have had two assists if it wasn’t for unusual profligacy for Mane who missed two on on one chances, one after brilliantly plucking a high ball from mid air and setting himself up to shoot wide.
Another substitute, Firmino, did bag an assist, though, as he found Georginio Wijnaldum in the box after brilliantly skipping past Mason Holgate on the left flank. The Dutchman calmly toe poked into the bottom right corner at the Kop end to tie up yet another derby victory.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Lallana, Milner; Mane, Origi, Shaqiri.
Substitutions: Henderson for Lallana, Gomez for Alexander Arnold, Firmino for Origi.
Subs not used: Keita, Kelleher, Oxlade Chamberlain, Salah.