Liverpool moved menacingly into second place in the Premier League after dispatching Southampton ?-0 with a dominant performance at Anfield on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men moved to just a point behind leaders Chelsea, who face Man Utd on Sunday. Diogo Jota (2), Thiago and Vigil van Dijk did the damage as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s five-at-the-back experiment backfired in the first half.
Klopp reverted to his strongest line-up for the visit of Southampton with six changes from the Champions League win over Porto.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota all returned.
Centre-back Ibrahima Konate kept his place at the expense of Joel Matip.
Southampton made three changes from last weekend’s defeat at Norwich with Lyanco, Armando Broja and Romain Perraud all coming in.
And Liverpool were quickly into their stride and took less than two minutes to take the lead.
Robertson combined well with Mane down the left and got to the byline to pull back for Jota, who seconds earlier had squandered a chance on the breakaway by delaying too long, scored from close range.
Mane was just off target with a header from a Robertson cross just moments later. But on 12 minutes he had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled offside.
Mane converted a free-kick from the left side from Robertson, but the VAR check proved he was marginally offside.
Southampton did offer their first threat on 23 minutes. A charging run down the left by Broja ended with fine save low down by Alisson, who had narrowed the angle.
Jota did make it 2-0 with his second of the game just after the half-hour mark.
Salah and Henderson combined brilliantly on the left to play in an unmarked Jota, who tapped the ball home.
Thiago on target again
And moments later it was 3-0 when Thiago’s deflected shot flew into the top corner. Thiago netted in successive matches after his left-footed effort hit Lyanco, who has just stopped Jota grabbing his hat-trick.
Van Dijk (52) got in on the scoring act on just after the break. He volleyed home Alexander-Arnold’s corner form the penalty spot to give McCarthy no chance.
Adam Armstrong should have replied for Saints but he was twice denied on the break. Firstly Konate blocked and then Alisson blocked a scruffy second effort.
Jota wasted a chance for his hat-trick on 72 minutes. He connected with a low, whipped cross from Robertson on the left, but could only send the ball high over the bar.
Mohammed Salisu then headed away a dangerous Salah effort as the hosts looked for number five.