Mohamed Salah was at the double as Liverpool remained in touch with the Premier League pacesetters courtesy of a rampant 4-1 win at Everton in a one-sided Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
The Reds made a fast start with Jordan Henderson opening the scoring with a sublime first-time strike on nine minutes.
Salah then added a second on 19 minutes when he was allowed to charge in from the right and flash a fine finish beyond Jordan Pickford. It was Liverpool’s 500th league goal under Jurgen Klopp and saw them become only the second PL team to score at least twice in 10 successive away matches.
Africa Cup of Nations
Goals, shocks and incidents galore - why you cant take your eyes off AFCON
Everton had barely had a look-in and the home crowd were quick to vent their frustration with Rafael Benitez looking increasingly concerned in his first Merseyside derby as Blues boss.
However, the Toffees did snare a lifeline seven minutes prior to the interval when Demarai Gray latched on to Richarlison’s pass and steered a clinical shot beyond Alisson.
The second period was briefly a more even affair until an error by Seamus Coleman allowed Salah to surge clear and tuck a low shot into the corner to restore the visitors’ two-goal cushion on 64 minutes. It was the Egyptian’s 19th goal in 19 matches in what is proving to be another stellar season for the forward.
Diogo Jota then rubbed salt in the Blues’ wounds with a brilliant turn and finish to leave the home supporters rushing for the exits.
The result sees Liverpool remain third, two points off top spot following wins for both Manchester City and Chelsea. Everton are 14th and just five points above the drop zone.
Next up, Liverpool visit Wolves on Saturday while Everton host Arsenal on Monday night.
'Everybody has to be disappointed' - Benitez after thrashing by Liverpool
TALKING POINT - Red hot Liverpool thrive as Everton woes continue
A biggest home derby defeat since 1982 and boos throughout – this was a tough one for former Liverpool boss Benitez to swallow. The Blues tried to talk up this occasion as a potential turning point in their season ahead of the contest, but they were second best for long spells and have still not won since September. That run now stands at eight league matches without a victory, but this one will sting the most as their neighbours demonstrated just how superior they are at the moment. The disgruntled atmosphere was tangible and there is now huge pressure on Benitez and the Toffees hierarchy following such a demoralising demolition against their main rivals.
In contrast, Liverpool were once again at their swashbuckling best. The Reds have now scored at least twice in 18 consecutive matches in all competitions and have lost just once in 30 outings. They have put last season’s disappointment firmly behind them and performances like this only add to the suggestions that they will be right in the mix for the major prizes once more.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The tongue in cheek comment doing the rounds on social media was that this wasn’t a bad display from a player who came just seventh in the recent Ballon d’Or voting. Indeed, many believe Salah is currently the best footballer on the planet and this was further evidence of his brilliance as his two-goal blast saw him deliver on the big stage yet again.
EVERTON: Pickford 6, Coleman 5, Godfrey 6, Keane 6, Digne 6, Doucoure 6, Allan 5, Townsend 5, Gray 7, Richarlison 6, Rondon 5. Subs: Gordon 6, Delph 6, Tosun n/a.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 7, Matip 8, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7, Fabinho 7, Henderson 8, Thiago 7, Salah 9, Jota 8, Mane 7. Subs: Milner 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain n/a, Minamino n/a.
2’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCES! Matip sends a free header from a corner wide of the far post before Salah somehow blazes a close-range volley over the top from Jota’s left-wing cross.
9’ - GOAL! – Everton 0-1 Liverpool. Henderson arrives on cue to guide a lovely first-time shot into the corner from Robertson's cut back to the edge of the box.
19’ - GOAL! – Everton 0-2 Liverpool. Salah races free down the right, charges into the area and glides a superb shot beyond Pickford and into the far corner.
38’ - GOAL! – Everton 1-2 Liverpool. The hosts are back in it. The goal comes out of the blue as Gray produces a brilliant touch to control Richarlison's pass and slot a cool finish beyond Alisson.
64’ - GOAL! – Everton 1-3 Liverpool. Salah seizes upon an error from Coleman just inside Liverpool's half and races clear before slipping a low shot into the far corner.
79’ - GOAL! – Everton 1-4 Liverpool. Jota spins his man inside the area and rifles a shot above Pickford and in at the near post.
Liverpool scored four goals in an away league match against Everton for the first time since a 5-0 win in November 1982 under Bob Paisley.
Liverpool have scored 43 league goals this season, more than any other side within Europe's big five leagues (Bayern Munich, 42). 25 of those have come away from home, which after seven matches is the most in the top-flight since Burnley back in 1961-62 (25).
'I'm not asking for crazy stuff' – Salah says Liverpool future 'not in my hands'
Lijnders confident Liverpool can overcome loss of Mane, Salah and Keita to AFCON