Belfast Telegraph

Klopp joy as his five-star Pool crank up the title pressure

Liverpool 5 Huddersfield 0

Flying start: Naby Keita fires Liverpool ahead after 15 seconds
Flying start: Naby Keita fires Liverpool ahead after 15 seconds
Sadio Mane celebrates his double

By Carl Markham

Liverpool's title destiny may still be out of their hands but they refuse to submit, with the 5-0 demolition of Huddersfield a reminder they are ready to pounce should Man City slip up.

The gap between top - the place occupied by Jurgen Klopp's side after this victory - and bottom could not have been more glaring at Anfield.

City, now two points behind with a game in hand, face a tricky trip to Burnley knowing they cannot afford a mistake.

The relegated Terriers did themselves no favours after allowing Naby Keita to score after just 16 seconds, Liverpool's quickest Premier League goal and their 100th in all competitions this season.

With principal owner John W Henry making a rare Anfield appearance, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both scored twice.

Liverpool now have the Premier League's top scorers this season (Salah 21, Mane 20) and with the team on course to reach 97 points it shows how impressive City have had to be - and will still have to be - to deny the Reds their first title since 1990.

Klopp was thrilled with his side's display, saying: "They had proper counter attacks so we needed to be patient and we scored wonderful goals."

The Reds boss admitted the early goals had meant his game plan was as good as useless.

He said: "We did everything to make the boys aware of how difficult the game could be. That goes out of the window after 15 seconds."

On Keita, he added: "He's a complete midfielder. I don't know how many he blocked."

And Klopp said of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's return: "It's brilliant, it's so good. It's over a year now. He's such a wonderful person. We are so happy for him.

"It's a perfect day, nothing happened injury-wise and we won."

Salah claimed the record for the most goals scored (69) by a Liverpool player in his first 100 games for the club.

"He looked like he wanted to break that record because after the second goal it was like 'me against the rest of the world'," said Klopp. "It is incredible and it is such an important season after a flying campaign where every shot was a goal last season.

"He is being assessed by people to see if it was a one hit and keeping that level is a bigger achievement than scoring 40 goals last season. He made a big step this season."

Huddersfield manager Jan Siewart said: "No one expected us to be brave and we could easily have put on our helmets and sat on the back foot but we put them under pressure. This is how I want to continue with my work.

"Jurgen Klopp has proved that at Liverpool where he came in and changed the system, and hopefully now he is playing for the title. We all knew they could punish us but I am proud of the way we created chances."

The windy conditions posed more of a problem to Liverpool than Huddersfield, although no one noticed after Keita struck before some had taken their seats.

Jon Gorenc Stankovic was caught in possession by the Guinea international, who took the return pass from Salah to sweep home the second fastest goal in the club's history, missing Paul Walsh's 14-second record against West Ham in 1984.

Salah fired wide and Virgil van Dijk headed over before the Holland defender strode out of defence to tee up an Andy Robertson cross which was met by Mane's downward header.

In doing so Robertson became the first Liverpool defender to provide 10 assists in a Premier League season.

Opposite full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is only one behind, however, after he clipped the ball forward and Salah lobbed the advancing Jonas Lossl to score his 68th goal on his 100th appearance for the club - equalling the record of Roger Hunt and Sam Raybould.

Incredbly Salah, with 25 goals this season, was not even on the PFA shortlist but became only the third Liverpool player to score 20-plus Premier League goals in successive seasons after Robbie Fowler and Luis Suarez.

In the second half Mane lobbed over and Daniel Sturridge had a goal ruled out for offside. In between, Karlan Grant missed an open goal from four yards for the visitors.

Mane added another header, this time from a Henderson cross, and Liverpool were so comfortable they gave Oxlade-Chamberlain 20 minutes after 367 days out injured.

He almost scored after his first couple of touches, denied by Lossl's outstretched leg, and while Mane was denied a hat-trick of headers by the post Salah could not miss from Robertson's 11th assist of the campaign.

Liverpool's thoughts now turn to the more difficult proposition of Barcelona in the Nou Camp in a Champions League semi-final on Wednesday - but before then they may be keeping an eye on events at Turf Moor tomorrow.

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