The Reds avoided a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ by following up their progression to the Champions League semi-finals earlier in the week with a 3-0 victory over the Cherries at Anfield.
Any sense Liverpool would be distracted by the looming continental clashes with Roma was banished by Mane’s early goal, with Mohamed Salah then netting his 40th of the campaign and Roberto Firmino‘s late strike ensuring Klopp’s side remain on course for a top-four finish.
Liverpool had beaten Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium only four days earlier, though Klopp made just one change to his starting line-up as he looked to maintain his side’s momentum.
“Before the game (Klopp) said we have to (show) our quality and be angry because every game is important,” Mane told Liverpoolfc.com.
“After the City game, you have to concentrate more because you usually know how it (can go).
“He tried to motivate us like usually and in the end everybody was in the right place at the right time to win every ball.
“We played well and created many chances, scored three goals and it was well deserved.”
It was Salah who again hogged the headlines as he joined Roger Hunt and Ian Rush as the only players to score 40 times in a single season for Liverpool.
The Egpytian’s 30th Premier League goal of the season, which put him five ahead of nearest challenger Harry Kane in the golden boot race, was not a trademark Salah strike.
Instead the forward reached Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross from the right and guided a header over Cherries goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
“The finish from Mo was a bit of an unusual one for him and one that maybe took everyone by surprise,” midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added.
“It proves that he can do that. I think I can remember him scoring one away at Leicester earlier in the season and that surprised me at the back post, seeing the little man get up and score a header.
“(Saturday’s) finish was up there with some of the very best headers of a ball in the world. It was a great finish.
“Before the game, the boss said we have to show our quality and be angry because every game is important.” 💪
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 14, 2018
“He could have had a few but he kept going and kept going, and got his goal in the end. I’m sure he’ll keep doing that for the rest of the season.”
A win for Bournemouth at Anfield would have taken them beyond the 40-point mark and into the top half.
With a 10-point gap between themselves and the bottom three, the Cherries should have already done enough to secure another year of top-flight football, even if boss Eddie Howe wants his team to mathematically confirm it.
“We’ve come up against a team that without doubt can win the Champions League, but these games are always valuable for our learning as a team,” he said.
“Everything is to play for as I’ve said all along – we’re in a relegation battle until we’re safe.”
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.