Mohamed Salah scored for the seventh successive match to continue a remarkable scoring spree which is the best in Europe as Liverpool comfortably beat Newcastle 2-0.
The Egypt international’s 32nd goal of the campaign – the same number the Magpies have managed in all competitions this season – was the 26th competitive club match he has scored in, eclipsing the likes of Paris St Germain’s Edinson Cavani (24) and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (20) in the big five leagues.
Sadio Mane added Liverpool’s second with his fifth goal in his last three matches, which came after the move of the night with a series of quick interchanges culminating in Roberto Firmino’s brilliantly-threaded pass through a seemingly impenetrable forest of legs.
Liverpool moved back into second place, with Manchester United having the chance to regain it against Crystal Palace on Monday, after inflicting Rafael Benitez’s first defeat in his six fixtures as manager against the team he guided to Champions League glory in 2005.
It was a bitterly cold return to Merseyside for the Spaniard, whose attempts at damage limitation against the free-scoring Reds lasted until five minutes before the break.
Prior to his goal Salah was denied three times. His first shot was blocked by Paul Dummett’s hands in front of his body, then he rifled an effort into the side-netting and finally he delayed too long in switching the ball to his right foot after being teed up by Firmino.
Newcastle’s luck could not hold, however, and when the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain burst onto a loose ball centre-back Jamaal Lascelles was drawn to the midfielder, affording the summer signing plenty of space to slip a pass to his right where Salah promptly slotted through Martin Dubravka’s legs.
The last Liverpool player to score in seven successive matches was Daniel Sturridge in February 2014. Salah also equalled Sturridge’s club record – shared with Robbie Fowler – of scoring in 19 different Premier League fixtures.
And there was no let-up from the forward who late in the second half had one shout for a penalty turned down for a foul by Lascelles, who was so tormented by the Egyptian all game he could easily have been sent off in added time for a last-ditch challenge which referee Graham Scott deemed clean – much to Jurgen Klopp’s disgust.
The only moment of alarm for the Reds came in first-half injury time when Loris Karius brilliantly tipped over Mohamed Diame’s curling effort, but normal service was resumed after the break as Salah had a second handball shout turned down when the ball struck Lascelles.
It mattered little when a superbly incisive move cut through the visitors and was finished with aplomb by Mane, a fitting way to bring up Anfield’s 300th Premier League victory.
The goal was also the 200th in Klopp’s 97th league game in charge and since he was appointed in October 2015 only Manchester City (214) have scored more.
They have no chance of catching Pep Guardiola’s side this season but finishing runners-up to a team playing arguably the best football in Europe remains well within their grasp.
For Newcastle, with just one win in their last seven matches, survival is still the aim with the Magpies just two points above the relegation zone.