Match ends, Liverpool 6, Leeds United 0.
Rampant Liverpool closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to three points after cruising to a sixth Premier League win in a row at Leeds United’s expense at a raucous Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side warmed up for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with an utterly dominant display that included three goals in 20 first-half minutes.
Two of those came from penalties by Mohamed Salah, who also set up defender Joel Matip for his first goal since December 2020.
Sadio Mane added two late goals and Virgil van Dijk scored with an added-time header.
The margin of Liverpool’s win means they have a superior goal difference to title rivals City, who they are due to meet on 9 April at Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool now have a difference of +50 compared to Pep Guardiola’s side’s +46, with both teams having played 26 games.
Reds boss Klopp said: “It is three points [the gap at the top] until the weekend and then City will probably win and then it will be six points. If we win all our games pretty much there will be a chance for us.
“I think for people outside it is better to have a three or six-point gap than to have a 20 or 30-point gap so it is more exciting but we have to win a lot of the games against all the difficult opponents and that will be a tricky task.
“We will give it a try.”
Liverpool were looking for the perfect preparation before this weekend’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley – and they eventually turned on the style against struggling Leeds.
Klopp said before the game he was not thinking about the title race and only concentrating on picking up three more league points.
Yet the Reds, who are in the fifth round of the FA Cup next week and have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals after establishing a 2-0 first-leg lead against Inter Milan, remain very much in the hunt for four trophies after a ninth straight win in all competitions.
City were 14 points clear of Liverpool after beating Chelsea on 15 January, albeit Guardiola’s side had played two games more.
But Klopp’s men have impressively clawed back 11 of those to create the prospect of an exciting title race with 12 games left.
Liverpool have now scored 70 Premier League goals this season – two more than they managed in 38 games on their way to finishing third last season – and Salah has 19 of those in another impressive season for the Egypt forward.
He opened the scoring from the spot after Stuart Dallas handled inside the box before Salah’s pass allowed centre-back Matip to double the lead with a sweeping finish any of Liverpool’s front three would have been proud of.
Salah made it 3-0 when Mane was fouled by Luke Ayling and then missed a couple of chances to complete his hat-trick.
However, Mane – playing through the middle with Luis Diaz on the left – added the fourth after an assist by substitute Jordan Henderson before the Senegal forward made it 5-0 when he was left unmarked on the edge of the six-yard area.
Van Dijk’s late header means Liverpool head to Wembley on the back of scoring six goals at home in the Premier League for the first time since November 2016, when they hammered Watford 6-1.
“We have 10 days until we play the next league game and we have two games in between in completely different competitions,” Klopp added.
“One is a final and the other I don’t even know, a quarter-final or a last 16 and they will be different games and we have to be ready for them as well.”
Leeds are as deeply in a relegation battle as Liverpool are in a title race after a humiliating defeat on Merseyside.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side started the day with a five-point cushion but this dispiriting result – coupled with Burnley’s win over Tottenham – means they are just three points above the bottom three having played more games than the trio immediately below them.
With forward Patrick Bamford – who scored 17 goals last season – England midfielder Kalvin Phillips and captain Liam Cooper all out with long-term injuries, it all points to worrying times at Elland Road.
Leeds actually started brightly with Brazil forward Raphinha having a goal ruled out for offside.
But their defensive frailties were always evident and the game was all but lost by half-time.
Bielsa’s side have conceded 56 goals this season – the highest number in the Premier League – including 31 in the past nine matches.
It is an alarming statistic that urgently requires addressing if their second season in the Premier League since winning promotion in 2020 is not to end in a return to a division they spent so long trying to escape.
Player of the match
Mohamed SalahMohamed Salah
with an average of 8.43
Squad number11Player nameMohamed Salah
Squad number10Player nameMané
Squad number26Player nameRobertson
Squad number4Player namevan Dijk
Squad number32Player nameMatip
Squad number23Player nameDíaz
Squad number6Player nameThiago Alcántara
Squad number14Player nameHenderson
Squad number3Player nameFabinho
Squad number27Player nameOrigi
Squad number66Player nameAlexander-Arnold
Squad number7Player nameMilner
Squad number1Player nameAlisson
Squad number17Player nameJones
Squad number30Player nameGelhardt
Squad number1Player nameMeslier
Squad number20Player nameJames
Squad number4Player nameForshaw
Squad number15Player nameDallas
Squad number22Player nameHarrison
Squad number46Player nameShackleton
Squad number19Player nameRodrigo
Squad number21Player nameStruijk
Squad number10Player nameRaphinha
Squad number43Player nameKlich
Squad number2Player nameAyling
Squad number3Player nameFirpo
Squad number11Player nameRoberts
Match ends, Liverpool 6, Leeds United 0.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 6, Leeds United 0.
Goal! Liverpool 6, Leeds United 0. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Raphinha.
Joe Gelhardt (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Fabinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Joe Gelhardt (Leeds United).
Goal! Liverpool 5, Leeds United 0. Sadio Mané (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.
Attempt saved. Divock Origi (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by James Milner with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. James Milner (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Pascal Struijk.
Substitution, Liverpool. Divock Origi replaces Luis Díaz.
Luis Díaz (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tyler Roberts (Leeds United).
Goal! Liverpool 4, Leeds United 0. Sadio Mané (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.
James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jamie Shackleton (Leeds United).
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Curtis Jones.
Attempt saved. Curtis Jones (Liverpool) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Andrew Robertson.
Attempt missed. Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Junior Firpo.