In a week which saw them complete home-and-away victories over Manchester City to book their place in the Champions League semi-finals, an Anfield fixture against Bournemouth may have seemed like a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ for Liverpool. Instead, it turned into a landmark evening in more than one respect for a player who had taken the venue by storm during the 2017/18 season.
It had been just over a year since the Cherries claimed a late 2-2 draw at Anfield and, with Jurgen Klopp’s side off the high of ending the European dreams of the team that would be crowned Premier League champions the following day, Eddie Howe’s men may have presented a proverbial banana skin for the Reds.
Any worries of another trip-up on Liverpool’s part, though, were eased inside seven minutes once Sadio Mane poked the ball past Asmir Begovic to open the scoring and take the combined goals tally of him, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to 80 for the season. There was no further scoring in the first half although the interval statistics laid bare the home side’s dominance – 10 shots to Bournemouth’s one and 618 passes to the Cherries’ 375.
In what would become a familiar occurrence, Trent Alexander-Arnold set up another Liverpool goal on 69 minutes, his aerial ball to Salah being headed into the visitors’ net by the Egyptian, who racked up two personal milestones in the process. It was his 30th Premier League goal of the season, becoming the first Reds player since Luis Suarez in 2014 to hit the mark, and his 40th in all competitions for the Reds in his debut campaign at the club following his £36.9m move from Roma the previous summer.
The last 20 minutes became a procession for Liverpool, with Loris Karius barely tested all evening aside from one late Andrew Surman effort, and the only negative aspect from a Reds perspective was a late injury sustained by Dejan Lovren. The win was rounded off in the final minute by Firmino’s 15th goal of the season, Liverpool’s 121st in all competitions in 2017/18 and the 300th of Klopp’s reign as manager at Anfield.
On a day of many milestones, it was Salah’s 40-goal haul which stood out, becoming the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush in 1987 to score that many in one season. He added two more in the Premier League to record the highest tally for a 38-game season in the division’s history and ended the campaign with 44 goals in total. The Reds held a 10-point lead over fifth-placed Chelsea after beating Bournemouth but a slump in form meant that they had to wait until the final day of the season to make sure of clinching a top four spot, having been only one point behind second-placed Manchester United on 14 April.
It made for a surprisingly nervy finish to the Premier League campaign for Liverpool but, on the day that Salah reached the 40-goal mark, one must have wondered how worse off the Reds would have been if they didn’t have the Egyptian to call upon during 2017/18.
*Statistics and match details sourced from match report from BBC.
Liverpool fans, what are your memories of the win over Bournemouth two years ago today? Were you surprised by how much of an impact Salah had that season? Give us your views in the comments section below!