Liverpool moved a step closer to clinching their first title in the Premier League era with a resounding 4-0 triumph over Crystal Palace.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delightful free-kick midway through the first half set Jurgen Klopp’s side on the way as they maintained their 100 per cent league record at Anfield this season.
A 16th straight home victory in the competition in 2019-20, albeit this one coming inside an empty stadium due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was wrapped up just prior to half-time by the returning Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool will now wait to see if Manchester City keep them waiting into July to end a 30-year wait to be crowned champions again; Pep Guardiola’s side must win at Chelsea on Thursday to remain in the hunt, mathematically at least.
Palace were the last away team to triumph at Anfield in the Premier League, back in April 2017, though hopes of a repeat suffered an early blow when an already depleted visiting line-up lost the talismanic Wilfried Zaha to injury.
Their cause was also not helped either by facing opponents clearly determined to do better after a Sunday stalemate against neighbours Everton.
Georginio Wijnaldum had already spurned a glorious opportunity before Alexander-Arnold’s sublime set-piece strike broke the deadlock, the full-back lifting the ball over the Palace wall and beyond Wayne Hennessey’s desperate dive.
Fabinho’s delightful pass picked out Salah’s run in behind to lift the ball over the Palace goalkeeper in the 44th minute, while the Brazilian went for power to thump in a stunning third from distance 10 minutes into the second half.
Sadio Mane rounded out the scoring when Salah’s throughball allowed him a clear run on goal before steering a low shot past Hennessey.
Job done for Liverpool, meaning their attention now switches to what happens at Stamford Bridge.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson 6; Alexander-Arnold 8 (Williams 74min, 6), Van Dijk 7, Gomez 7, Robertson 7 (Keita 84); Henderson 7 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64, 6), FABINHO 8.5, Wijnaldum 7; Salah 8, Firmino 7 (Minamino 74, 6), Mane 7 (Elliott 84).
Subs not used: Adrian, Lovren, Jones, Origi.
Scorers: Alexander-Arnold 23, Salah 44, Fabinho 55, Mane 68.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7.
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Hennessey 6; Ward 5, Cahill 5, Sakho 4, Van Aanholt 5; McArthur 5 (Riedewald 66, 6), McCarthy 6, Kouyate 6 (Milivojevic 66, 6); Townsend 5, Ayew 5 (Pierrick 84), Zaha 5 (Meyer 15, 5).
Subs not used: Henderson, Dann, Tavares, Mitchell.
Manager: Roy Hodgson 6.
Referee: Martin Atkinson 6.