Bournemouth beaten at Liverpool
- Chris Kavanagh
AFC Bournemouth lost 3-0 at Anfield as Liverpool's merciless attacking machine fired the hosts past the Cherries on Saturday evening.
Sadio Mane scored from his own rebound seven minutes into the contest, the Reds having further chances but the lead remaining slender at the interval.
Mo Salah notched another goal for his superlative season as he redirected a cross with his head as the hosts increased their advantage, while the Cherries began to create good chances as the game entered its closing stages.
Dan Gosling and substitute Callum Wilson worried the Liverpool backline with good efforts, though Bournemouth's long run of successive league scoring came to an end, with Roberto Firmino adding gloss to the scoreline with a late third for the Reds.
Eddie Howe made two changes ahead of the teams being announced, Joshua King and Jordon Ibe in from the off as Marc Pugh and Wilson dropped to the bench.
Liverpool raced out of the blocks and Salah almost turned home Trent Alexander-Arnold's centre, the ball skidding narrowly wide of Asmir Begovic's near post.
Seven minutes in the early pressure resulted in the opening goal, scored by Mane in front of the Anfield Road End.
Jordan Henderson's cross saw the Senegalese striker move into space away from his defender and while Begovic got down well to save Mane's header from near the penalty spot, the follow up from eight yards was fired into the back of the net.
Ibe moved into space moments after the Bournemouth restart and was able to work the ball onto his right foot, the winger let fly from 24 yards but found only the Kop as his effort went high.
Mane was set free again on 13 minutes, Begovic saving well at the striker's feet, the offside flag being raised shortly afterwards; while Nathan Ake was soon booked after bringing down Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Begovic was called into action again, palming away Alexander-Arnold's quickly-taken freekick, the Cherries ‘keeper then saving from Salah’s low 20-yard shot.
Bournemouth has the ball in the back of the Liverpool net midway through the half, Jermain Defoe turning home Ryan Fraser’s low centre after a short corner, though offside had been signalled a second or so ahead of the ball being tucked away.
After the busy opening the game began to settle down and the Cherries began to enjoy increasing levels of possession, though the Reds’ pace and attacking threat was always apparent, though the lead remained a slender one as the teams walked in at half time.
The second half began with a oddly muted atmosphere at Anfield, and it took just over ten minutes for either side to go close with an effort, defender Virgil van Dijk the striding forwards from the back and shooting from 32 yards, the ball fizzing half a yard over Begovic's bar.
Lys Mousset was introduced from the bench on 58 minutes for Ibe, the Cherries looking to extend their 14-game run of Premier League scoring matches.
Salah has a low shot comfortably saved past the hour mark, both sides almost seeming to be saving themselves for the final quarter of the game and a late charge.
The volume was rising from the travelling supporters in the away end with the Cherries moving the ball with more comfort than previously in the match, but visiting chances were at a premium and on 69 minutes Salah scored his 30th Premier League goal of a spellbinding season.
The danger appeared minimal for the Cherries defence but after Alexander-Arnold lofted an inswinging ball in the box from wide right the Egyptian thought quickly and cleverly directed a looping first-time header over Begovic to double the lead.
In the aftermath of Liverpool's second Wilson and Andrew Surman were introduced for the away side, though the home side and their fans were beginning to buzz again.
The lead looked likely to be lengthened when Oxlade-Chamberlain played Firmino through on goal, the Brazilian, however, elected to turn inside past Begovic and with defensive bodies descending on him his scuffed shot was cleared off the line by Ake.
A fine Simon Francis cross was centimetres away from Mousset's head in the middle, Dejan Lovren intervening and the resulting corner soon cleared by another Liverpool head.
The visitors did create a golden chance when the skipper crossed again from the right, Mousset couldn't convert as he stormed onto the ball and as it fell loose for Dan Gosling Loris Karius did really well to saved from the follow up, ten yards from goal.
Wilson was next to threaten a Cherries goal controlling King's ball over near the byline and volleying the bouncing ball back across goal and not too far wide of the far post.
Liverpool had a third with time ebbing away, Oxlade-Chamberlain orchestrating another attack and Firmino able to slam an effort home from just inside the box.
Andrew Robertson's late strike was over the bar as Liverpool saw the game out, though the Cherries showed effort and endeavour to the last on Merseyside.