LIVERPOOL: Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all scored twice as Liverpool shrugged off a season of frustration to thrash Manchester United 7-0 at Anfield on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men set a new record margin of victory in the clash between English football’s two most successful clubs.
“It was one of the best performances for a long, long time. Everybody saw what the boys can be,” said Klopp.
“The second half couldn’t start better. From that moment on we were flying and it was really difficult to play against us.”
Just a second defeat in 23 games in all competitions realistically ends United’s hopes of a first league title in a decade as they remain 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal in third.
But there could even more lasting damage from a record-equalling defeat for the club in a competitive game and heaviest since 1931.
“The result is quite obvious. It is unprofessional,” said United manager Erik ten Hag.
“There are many things which make me angry. To concede so easy the goals is definitely one.”
Liverpool close to within three points of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand on Spurs.
Klopp’s side won the two league meetings between the teams by an aggregate score of 9-0 last season, but the tables had seemingly turned this season.
A 2-1 win over the Reds in August gave Erik ten Hag his first win as United boss and his team started the day 10 points clear of Liverpool.
Liverpool have looked a shadow of the side that came close to an unprecedented quadruple of trophies last season.
But either side of a 5-2 humiliation on home soil by Real Madrid, they have got back in the race for a place in the Champions League next season thanks to a run of 13 points from a possible 15 in the Premier League.
“Everybody has to feel us. Everybody has to know we are still around,” added Klopp. “That’s what we have to be from now on”
– United crumble –
Ten Hag told his players to embrace the hostile environment of Anfield, where United have not won since 2016.
But they crumbled after Gakpo opened the floodgates two minutes before half-time.
Andy Robertson sliced open the United defence to play in the Dutch international, who cut inside and fired low into the far corner.
Ten Hag’s men were then blown away in the second period as Liverpool’s new-look front three finally clicked.
Nunez punished sloppy United defending as the Uruguayan stooped to head in Harvey Elliott’s cross.
Moments later, Gakpo scored his second with a delightful dink over David de Gea at the end of a lightning Liverpool counter-attack.
It could have been even worse for United as Robertson and Ibrahima Konate saw efforts fly inches wide.
Salah got the goal his performance deserved as he crashed in Nunez’s through ball off the underside of the bar.
Nunez then headed in his second as he was left completely unmarked from Jordan Henderson’s cross.
Salah became Liverpool’s outright all-time Premier League goalscorer with 129 with a simple tap in after more shambolic United defending.
“It’s very special, I can’t lie,” said Salah. “This record was in my mind since I came here. After my first season I was always chasing the record.”
Roberto Firmino will move on at the end of the season it was revealed this week.
But the Brazilian came off the bench to have the final say as he slotted a remarkable seventh two minutes from time.