Egyptian forward Salah joined Roger Hunt and Ian Rush as the only Reds players to have scored 40 times in a single season when he nodded in his 30th Premier League goal of the campaign in a 3-0 Anfield success over Bournemouth.
That header came either side of efforts from the other two members of Liverpool’s attacking triumvirate, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, as Klopp’s men reestablished their 10-point cushion over fifth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification.
“It’s all about him and all about us, how we finish the season,” Klopp said of Salah.
“It’s completely normal that a boy in that situation wants to be top of the scoring list, the golden boot.
“But we cannot force it; so, pass, shoot, pass, shoot, that’s the normal thing to do. It’s good and impressive. What a number. Wow!
“And what a number we scored as a team in the whole season, that’s crazy. That’s really good but we have to carry on, there are a few games to come.”
Salah’s personal dual to deny Harry Kane a third successive golden boot was brought into sharper focus after the Tottenham forward was controversially awarded Spurs’ second goal against Stoke last weekend.
They had appealed the Premier League Match Centre’s call to hand Christian Eriksen the goal, with Kane arguing the Dane’s free-kick had brushed his shoulder, and the overturning of the decision prompted Salah to respond with surprise on social media.
Asked about his leading scorer possibly being distracted by the prospect of that personal accolade, Klopp added: “We need his greed, we need him to want to score.
“Weeks ago I said to Mo after a game, ‘That’s a situation where you have to pass’. Sometimes it’s so obvious that he knows it.
“He is not distracted or whatever about the golden boot; he wants to have it like he wants us to be successful.
“If he gets the golden boot it’s pretty likely that we are successful, so no problem with that.”
Rush was the last player to score 40 times in a season and the Welshman was at Anfield to see Salah join the club with a clever looped header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
“Thirty-one years ago since Ian Rush scored over 40 goals? Ian doesn’t look that old,” Klopp quipped.
“Was he 14 when he scored them!? Yes, it’s extraordinary. (Salah) knows that the kind of (football) we play suits him.”
Liverpool had beaten Premier League champions-elect Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-finals and, four days after their second-leg victory at the Etihad Stadium, they were equally impressive to Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.
“Full credit to Liverpool – they have really improved and grown as a team,” Howe said.
“They have shown it in the Premier League and the Champions League. They are a very tough team to play against.
“The front three (Salah, Mane, Firmino) are outstanding players with mobility and pace, but the midfield three did really well as well. They are playing with so much confidence.”
While Eddie Howe’s side didn’t offer much resistance, the encounter still served up plenty of food for thought.
ALEXANDER-ARNOLD RIGHT BACK INTO CONTENTION
With Nathaniel Clyne enduring an injury-ravaged season, Jurgen Klopp has spent much of this term alternating between Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold in that right-back spot. In recent times though, the latter has appeared to establish himself in that role.
Alexander-Arnold has steadily grown in confidence with each appearance in the senior outfit and was hugely impressive against Bournemouth. In fact, his form may even force himself into Gareth Southgate’s England plans for the World Cup.
The 19-year-old has certainly proved he can handle the big occasion after his stellar performances over two legs against Manchester City in the Champions League and was a potent attacking threat again as Liverpool entertained Bournemouth at Anfield.
The full-back should’ve chalked up an assist in the first half when his vicious delivery into the box was put wide by Salah while he had the confidence to step up and test Asmir Begovic with a free-kick as well. It was his cross that Mane forced a save from Begovic off before turning in the rebound.
He finally got his assist when Salah headed in another one of his sumptuous crosses from the right.
STILL MANE ENOUGH
Mane’s only drawback this season is that he hasn’t been able to keep pace with Salah. Given that the Egyptian has outrun most in Europe and is neck-and-neck with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, his Liverpool team-mate can be forgiven for not matching him stride for stride.
In actual fact, this has been Mane’s finest season in English football. He has 16 goals and eight assists in the Premier League and Champions League. He was excellent again in the win over Bournemouth with his strike making him the highest-scoring Senegalese player in the history of the Premier League with 44 goals to his name.
If not for the phenomenal Salah, Mane would be the one the Anfield faithful sing about this term. Perhaps he’s earned a few more chants.
SALAH ALWAYS WANTS MO
Harry Kane is as goal-hungry as they come but even he will struggle to match the appetite Salah has shown in front of goal this season. The Egyptian didn’t have it all his own way against Bournemouth as his finishing seemed to have evaded him and he resorted to a few pot shots into the second half.
The point though is that he kept at it and never let his head drop. He’s consistently likened to Messi given his diminutive stature and favoured left side but he shares the same relentless nature as Ronaldo.
He tried everything to get on the score sheet, dropping deep, swapping flanks, going through the middle and then some. He eventually got his reward with a rare header that he appeared especially proud of. He now has 30 goals in the Premier League this season and 40 overall. Kane may need a few more appeals if he’s going to catch the Liverpool star.
Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth with each member of their famed attacking triumvirate getting on the score sheet at Anfield.
Here are our Liverpool player ratings:
Loris Karius – 6: Almost didn’t need that post-match shower. Just the one save to make, getting a few specks of dirt on his otherwise pristine gloves.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9: Top performance from the right-back. Should’ve had three assists to his name, ended up with one. Growing in stature with every game.
Dejan Lovren – 7: Starting to look like he could forge a formidable partnership alongside Van Dijk.
Virgil van Dijk – 8: Commanded the back-line and dealt with most of which invaded his penalty box. Had a rasping shot at goal that fizzed over.
Andrew Robertson – 7: Couldn’t match the quality produced by his fellow full-back but was an attacking threat nonetheless.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8: Consistently drove forward from midfield. His energy was key to Liverpool breaking into the final third. Set up Firmino’s goal.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 5: Quiet outing for the Dutchman. Didn’t get on the ball enough.
Jordan Henderson – 6: Anchored midfield and kept it all ticking over. Receive, distribute, repeat.
Sadio Mane – 8: Was the chief threat for Liverpool in the first half and made the breakthrough. A chipped pass in behind for Salah was another highlight of a fine performance.
Mohamed Salah – 8: No way Salah was leaving the pitch without a goal to his name. He kept plugging away and eventually bagged his 40th of the season in all competitions. He’s relentless, always wanting Mo. Good luck, Harry Kane.
Roberto Firmino – 7: Worked hard in that front line but didn’t seem to have the finishing touch until he hit the target at the death, albeit owing to some rather lax goalkeeping.
Ragnar Klavan – N/A: Replaced Lovren in the closing stages who wasn’t moving very well.
James Milner – N/A: Saw out the final 10 minutes after being introduced in place of Mane.
Dominic Solanke – N/A: Replaced Firmino in stoppage time.