Salah scores on return as Liverpool beat Brentford to extend Premier League lead

Saka scored twice as Arsenal thrashed Burnley as Forest climb five points clear of the relegation zone with victory Ham

By Reuters

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their third goal. - Reuters
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their third goal. - Reuters

Published: Sat 17 Feb 2024, 10:05 PM

Last updated: Sat 17 Feb 2024, 10:07 PM

Mohamed Salah scored on his return from injury as Liverpool kept their foot on the throttle in the Premier League title race with a 4-1 win at Brentford on Saturday to go provisionally five points clear at the summit.

Bukayo Saka scored twice as Arsenal kept the pressure on Liverpool by routing Burnley 5-0 as Nottingham Forest rose five points clear of the relegation zone and added to the pressure on West Ham United manager David Moyes with a 2-0 victory at the City Ground.


Darwin Nunez opened the scoring with an exquisite first-half chip, and goals after the break from Alexis Mac Allister and Salah, who was playing his first game for Liverpool in over six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury at the Africa Cup of Nations, effectively ended the contest.

Ivan Toney pulled one back for Brentford, but Cody Gakpo grabbed Liverpool's fourth to wrap up a comfortable win for the visitors.


The victory lifted Liverpool to 57 points and put the ball back in the court of chasers Manchester City in second and third-placed Arsenal, who are both on 52 but can reduce the deficit later on Saturday.

In what is shaping up to be one of the tightest title races in years, Pep Guardiola's City side, arguably still in the box seat with two games in hand, host Chelsea in Saturday's late game after Arsenal visit Burnley.

While his side cruised to a sixth win in their last seven league games, there was a sour note for Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who was already dealing with a lengthy injury list before Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota were taken off in the first half and Nunez failed to emerge after halftime.

The Liverpool manager was already without a number of key players through injury including goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai.

"That's really not good. But we can't change that anymore," Klopp told reporters when asked about the latest injuries.

"In these situations the performance level could have dropped, but it was the other way around. We played an exceptional game. By far the best game since I've been at Liverpool here at Brentford."

FINE FINISH

Klopp cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as Brentford snapped into challenges and forced Liverpool back in the early stages, with Toney spurning a couple of chances. But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock thanks to Nunez's fine finish in the 35th minute.

A long clearance forward from Virgil van Dijk was headed into Nunez's path by Jota and the Uruguayan ran clear before chipping the ball expertly over the advancing Flekken for his ninth league goal of the season.

Salah came off the bench to replace Jota and had two chances either side of halftime but failed to convert a dangerous cross from Luis Diaz and then straight after the interval stabbed wide after running through with only the keeper to beat.

The Egyptian was the creator for Liverpool's second, however in the 55th minute, as he cut in from the right and fed Mac Allister whose first touch took him past the last man before he stabbed it into the net.

Salah was on target 13 minutes later when a long ball forward from stand-in keeper Caoimhin Kelleher was headed on by Gakpo. Salah pounced as the Brentford defence stood still, beating Nathan Collins before finishing left-footed for his 15th league goal of the season.

Toney pulled one back in the 75th minute, firing home on the rebound after Sergio Reguilon's shot was superbly saved by Kelleher. But it proved little more than a consolation, and Liverpool ensured there would be no late drama when Gakpo added a fourth in the 86th minute.

The Dutchman, who replaced Nunez at halftime, was fed through on goal by Diaz's pass and finished clinically with his left foot.

"I thought we were brilliant in the first 35 minutes and created a lot of good moments, we should have shown quality or coolness but then we conceded the first goal," said Brentford boss Thomas Frank, whose side stayed 14th with 25 points.

"If you want to beat the best in the Premier League you need to be perfect. Unfortunately today we weren't."

Results

Brentford 1 Liverpool 4

Burnley 0 Arsenal 5

Fulham 1 Aston Villa 2

Newcastle United 2 AFC Bournemouth 2

Nottingham Forest 2 West Ham United 0

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2

English Premier League table (Top 4)

(Pplayed, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Liverpool 25 17 6 2 59 24 57

Man City 23 16 4 3 56 25 52

Arsenal 24 16 4 4 53 22 52

Tottenham 24 14 5 5 51 36 47


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