Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League again with a 5-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at a blustery Anfield on Friday night.
Naby Keita’s first-minute opener was followed by braces from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to secure an emphatic scoreline and a 10th triumph in a row in all competitions for the Reds.
The win lifted Jürgen Klopp’s side two points above title rivals Manchester City, who travel to Burnley on Sunday afternoon.
And the icing on the cake came with the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on 73 minutes for his first senior appearance for 12 months and a rousing reception from the home fans.
There was significance throughout the Liverpool teamsheet as Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge came into the XI in place of Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino – the latter absent due to a minor muscle issue.
On the bench, meanwhile, was Oxlade-Chamberlain, the midfielder back in a first-team squad one year and two days after suffering a serious knee injury against AS Roma at Anfield.
Whatever happens in the final stretch of the title race, it has been a record-breaking Premier League season for Klopp’s men, whose win here further increased a best-ever points total to 91.
Another new benchmark was achieved 15 seconds into the match, too.
Keita’s pressing alarmed Jon Gorenc Stankovic into giving away possession near his own area, Salah capitalised by sliding a reverse pass into Keita’s subsequent forward run and the No.8 rolled a finish off the left post and in.
It was the fastest goal Liverpool have scored in the Premier League era.
Strangely, though, the speedy breakthrough came in contrast to an opening 10 minutes in which the visitors troubled the Reds, Stankovic’s shot from 20 yards flicking off Lovren and wide at the Kop end, for example.
But Klopp’s side steadily clenched their grip on the game, with Salah prodding off target at the end of an incisive dribble and Virgil van Dijk nodding a header over from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner.
The second goal soon arrived, though.
Van Dijk’s 23rd-minute surge forward with the ball opened up space and his clipped pass out to Andy Robertson on the left flank was swung into the area for Mane to clinically head down past Jonas Lossl.
Jordan Henderson rifled a presentable chance too high from the edge of the box after Robertson’s latest delivery rebounded out but Liverpool’s control was to be rewarded with a third just before the interval.
Alexander-Arnold’s lofted pass married with Salah’s sprint off the right flank and the Egyptian delicately dropped the ball up and over the outcoming Lossl to go out in front as the first Premier League scorer to reach 20 goals this season.
Mane threatened a fourth early in the second half but, having collected Georginio Wijnaldum’s ball over the top, the No.10 slightly misjudged his attempt to chip Lossl from left to right.
Huddersfield responded with three quickfire warnings.
Juninho Bacuna troubled Lovren with a dribble into the area from the left and the Liverpool defender’s attempted block spun the ball into the middle towards Karlan Grant, who could not connect.
Keita then tracked back superbly to prevent Steve Mounie from breaking free in the right channel and Alisson Becker padded away a swerving strike from Bacuna.
The home supporters were on their feet in anticipation when Salah tricked his way around Terence Kongolo and smacked a fine rising shot reminiscent of his thunderbolt against Chelsea – but this one sailed the wrong side of the left post.
Instead it was Mane who bagged the fourth and temporarily matched Salah’s Premier League tally of 20 this term.
He had been involved in the initial build-up with Robertson and after the ball was recycled via Alexander-Arnold and a sweeping Henderson cross into the box, Mane was there with another precise header home from close range.
Klopp sent on Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri for the final quarter-hour and the former was only denied an immediate goalscoring return by the leg of Lossl, following Salah’s tee-up.
Mane hit the post to miss out on a hat-trick of headed finishes, the Senegal international picked out by Shaqiri, yet there was still time for a fifth.
Patient play saw Robertson remain onside to collect Shaqiri’s pass into the left channel and a perfect square into the centre allowed Salah to wrap up an excellent evening’s work for the Reds.