London – Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool muscled their way back into the Premier League title race with a 3-1 win at West Ham on Sunday after Thomas Tuchel celebrated his first victory as Chelsea boss.
Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit champions appeared to have lost their way after a five-game winless spell but are back on track after beating Tottenham and West Ham in the space of 72 hours.
Earlier, defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso showed Chelsea’s misfiring strikers the way, producing stunning finishes in a 2-0 win against toothless Burnley.
Leicester, looking to close to within two points of leaders Manchester City, lost 3-1 to Leeds and Tottenham went down 1-0 to Brighton in the evening kick-off.
Defeat for Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes meant Liverpool — with no fit senior centre-backs and missing forward Sadio Mane — had the chance to climb to third in the table.
Two goals from Egypt international Salah and a late Georginio Wijnaldum effort lifted them to 40 points after 21 games, a single point behind Manchester United and four behind leaders Manchester City.
Salah, who had not scored in six Premier League matches, put the visitors ahead in the 57th minute with a fine curling lob over Lukasz Fabianski and added the second after a lightning break following a West Ham corner.
Liverpool grabbed a third when substitutes Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain combined to set up Wijnaldum for a tap-in before a late consolation for West Ham’s Craig Dawson.
Salah is the first player to score at least 20 goals in all competitions in four consecutive seasons for Liverpool since Ian Rush in the 1980s.
“It was a great game, a very professional game, very controlled against usually a flying side,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“We didn’t create enough in the first half. We made little adjustments at half-time and it paid off. We scored three unbelievable goals.”
“These boys are a really good group,” he added. “They’re not happy at not being successful, not winning, but they always have the right attitude.”
Chelsea manager Tuchel celebrated his first victory as manager of the Stamford Bridge club.
The former Paris Saint-Germain boss was brought in to replace Frank Lampard last week with a brief to haul the stuttering side back into the race for Champions League spots.
He oversaw a frustrating goalless draw against Wolves in midweek but two moments of magic from Azpilicueta and forgotten man Alonso mean the German has four points from six.
Tuchel said the victory would infuse his side with confidence but admitted they needed to sharpen up their finishing after both goals came from defenders.
“It should be a signal to our guys up front that we needed defensive players to score,” he told BT Sport.
“We lacked precision in the last pass and touch, but in the finishing we will work on this absolutely. We had a lot of touches, half-chances and deliveries in the box, but in the end I could not care less.”
Leicester, unbeaten in seven Premier League games heading into their match against Leeds at the King Power Stadium, had a chance to put real pressure on Manchester City.
Harvey Barnes gave the home side the lead in the 13th minute but Leeds were level just 127 seconds later when Patrick Bamford set up Stuart Dallas, who beat Kasper Schmeichel with a low finish.
Bamford struck a superb shot into the top corner to put the visitors ahead in the 70th minute and teed up Jack Harrison for a tap-in.
“We have to go away and learn from that and then look to get back to winning ways on Wednesday,” said Rodgers, who is missing leading scorer Jamie Vardy.
Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, without the injured Harry Kane, slipped to their second successive defeat, courtesy of a first-half goal for Brighton’s Leandro Trossard.
Tottenham, who topped the table last month, remain in sixth place, 11 points behind City and six behind fourth-placed Leicester, though they have a game in hand. — AFP