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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Mohamed Salah hat-trick against Bournemouth sends Liverpool top of the Premier League

A Steve Cook own goal compounds a miserable day for both player and hosts

Mohamed Salah carries the match ball after scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Reuters
Mohamed Salah carries the match ball after scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Reuters

Jurgen Klopp hailed Mohamed Salah's "brilliant" performance as the Egyptian staged a one-man demolition job on Bournemouth that took Liverpool top of the Premier League.

Salah's hat-trick took his season's goals tally into double figures as Bournemouth were blown away by wave after wave of Liverpool attacks.

Salah has failed to hit the dizzying heights of his debut campaign at Anfield, one that brought 32 league goals as well as the players', writers' and league's player of the year awards, but he gave a reminder at the Vitality Stadium that he is still capable of spearheading Liverpool's title assault.

A Steve Cook own goal compounded a miserable afternoon for both player and Bournemouth.

"The whole game was brilliant from him [Salah] today - not only the goals," Klopp told BBC's Match Of The Day. "He wanted to help with runs in behind and him scoring three goals is big for him and very important for us."

Victory sent Liverpool top of the Premier League on 42 points, although Manchester City would have the chance to regain top spot later on Saturday when they take on Chelsea.

It was the first match of a busy week for Klopp's men, who face Italian club Napoli in a make-or-break match to reach the knockout stage of the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday before taking on Manchester United in the league at Anfield next Sunday.

"Bournemouth have had a really good season," Klopp added. "Coming here, winning in the manner we did was quite special.

"We are not really interested in other teams. We only have three days until Napoli which is a big one. It is Bournemouth celebrating day. Let's go home, have food and go again."

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The hosts had legitimate claims to feel aggrieved at Salah's opening goal on 25 minutes. Roberto Firmino unleashed a vicious left-foot volley from range that Asmir Begovic could only parry into Salah's path.

Television replays showed the Egyptian was marginally offside as Firmino took aim, but Salah was quickest to react and plundered past the recovering Begovic.

"I have many complaints," Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. "He [Salah] was offside. It has a huge bearing on the match. We were fine until that moment. It changes the game."

There was no doubt about Salah's second. Referee Lee Mason waved play on as Cook, who was arguably at fault for three of Liverpool's goals, attempted to halt Salah in his tracks as the Liverpool forward drove at the heart of the Bournemouth defence three minutes after the restart.

He clipped Salah's trailing leg, but the Egyptian stayed on his feet to aim a left-foot drive at Begovic's far post that was helped on its way via a slight deflection off the covering Nathan Ake.

The game was over as a contest on 68 minutes when Cook scored a spectacular goal that even Salah would have been proud of. The impressive Andrew Robertson fired in a cross from the left that the Bournemouth centre-back inadvertently back-heeled into his own net attempting to clear.

Salah ensured he would be going home with the match ball when he completed his hat-trick on 77 minutes.

Liverpool substitute Adam Lallana played a ball over the top that Cook was always struggling to reach. He could only help it in to Salah's path, who rounded Begovic twice before strolling closer to the goal to rifle home to move him level with Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the league's top scorer with 10 goals.

In doing so, Salah became the first player to score a hat-trick in this fixture since Harry Chambers managed the same for Liverpool in a third-round FA Cup replay in 1927.