Premier League • England

Salah strikes twice as Liverpool add to Benitez pressure with thumping win over Everton

Mohamed Salah celebrating after scoring for Liverpool

Liverpool piled more pressure on their former manager Rafael Benitez at Everton after Mohamed Salah scored twice in a 4-1 Merseyside derby win.

Salah found the back of the net in either half, his goals sandwiched between strikes from Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota. Everton could only answer once, via Demarai Gray. Their rivals were the better side and deserved the three points.

In getting them, they have added further scrutiny on Benitez in the Everton hotseat after he lost his first derby on the other side of the Merseyside divide.

Everton changed two members of their starting lineup compared to the XI that faced Brentford on Sunday. Richarlison and Gray came in for Alex Iwobi and Anthony Gordon.

Liverpool made just one change from their lineup against Southampton at the weekend. Joel Matip replaced Ibrahima Konate at centre-back.

It was Matip who had the first chance of the game after Liverpool won an early corner. However, his header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delivery went wide.

Liverpool went close again moments later when Salah got on the receiving end of a cross from Jota. Stretching, though, he missed the target from a few yards out.

With 10 minutes not yet on the clock there was a third big chance for Liverpool when Jordan Pickford did well to deny Salah.

Henderson gives Liverpool lead

Jurgen Klopp’s side were clearly building towards a breakthrough and it came in the ninth minute, when Henderson put them ahead.

Andy Robertson pulled the ball back from the bye-line, passing to his captain on the edge of the box. Henderson hit it first time with his left foot, guiding it into the bottom corner.

Things were already at risk of unravelling for Everton and it got worse when Salah made it 2-0 in the 19th minute.

This time Henderson turned provider, setting up the Egyptian talisman. Running at goal from the right-hand side, Salah expertly placed the ball beyond Pickford’s reach and into the opposite bottom corner.

It brought up an English record of Liverpool scoring two goals or more in their last 18 matches in all competitions.

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With the way things were going, it looked like Wednesday’s match was very much going to end up in the “or more” part of that category. It was nearly three when Michael Keane almost deflected the ball into his own goal.

Everton hit back before break

But as discontent began to become clear in the Goodison Park stands, it was actually the hosts who scored next. On 38 minutes, Gray was played through by Richarlison, controlling the ball as he moved towards goal and slotting past Alisson.

Everton still had to withstand some pressure before the break, though. Ben Godfrey cleared off the line to deny Sadio Mane.

By half-time the score was 2-1 to Liverpool and the intensity had been fitting of a Merseyside derby. Four Everton players and one Liverpool man were on yellow cards already.

There were early chances for both sides in the second half. For Everton, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s header was a comfortable save for Alisson. At the other end, Godfrey was called into action to thwart Mane again with a big block.

It was becoming more competitive, if not quite at the same tempo, so the next goal seemed like it would be crucial.

Liverpool tried to make sure they got it when Thiago Alcantara volleyed an effort wide following a Virgil van Dijk free kick hitting the wall. Their tally remained at two, though.

Salah gets Liverpool a third

Their third goal eventually came in the 64th minute when Salah got his second of the night.

Capitalising on a mistake from Seamus Coleman, who failed to control the ball, Salah ran at pace from the halfway line before tucking home to make it 3-1.

Liverpool looked to build further on their lead rather than sit back and protect it. Jota headed the ball over after a corner, for example.

The Portuguese forward got a goal himself in the 79th minute. Expertly bringing the ball under his control, he turned and shot from a tight angle. The ball flew past Pickford to make it four.

By this stage, ironic chants were coming from the away end about their former boss Benitez, who now looks to be in a perilous position just months after his divisive appointment at Everton.

The Toffees are now without a win in eight games. The situation is quite the opposite to that of their rivals, who are keeping pace with fellow title challengers.

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