LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool continued its relentless march to their first English title in 30 years, celebrating a 2-0 win at West Ham United on Wednesday that brought them a 19 point lead at the Premier League summit.
Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrate after the match REUTERS / David Klein
Mohamed Salah cleared the penalty spot in the first half and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled his lead at the start of the second half to score a remarkable 23rd win of the season from 24 games and extend the undefeated league win to 40.
In a game that was postponed from December when Liverpool was busy winning the Club World Cup, they never saw much pressure and picked West Ham at crucial moments, defending themselves as needed, and saw one during the break constant threat.
Salah shot home from the penalty area in the 35th minute after Divock Origi was knocked down from behind and Oxlade-Chamberlain completed a deadly counterattack, as was typical of Liverpool's 52nd-minute season.
The victory was pleasant, but Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp is still difficult to satisfy.
“These guys have played great football all season. Tonight was a normal performance, ”he said.
His West Ham counterpart David Moyes praised Klopp's side more effusively.
"They are as good as they were at the time and it is very difficult for me as a former manager of Everton and Manchester United to say that," said Moyes.
West Ham had some hits. Manuel Lanzini had an excellent chance at the start of the second half and Robert Snodgrass had a good chance at Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, but the situation is getting grim.
While Liverpool has a whopping 70 points, Moyes' team is 17th with 23 points, outside the relegation zone only because of the goal difference.
Without Sadio Mane, who failed due to a muscle injury, the visitors seemed to have lost an attack spark in the initial phase.
Still, Liverpool could have continued in the 24th minute when Andy Robertson took a chance against Lukasz Fabianski before Issa Diop cleared up again. Robertson's hissing cross barely avoided Origi's outstretched boots.
The Belgian striker won Liverpool's penalty kick when he was overthrown by Diop's challenge. This was followed by the apparently mandatory VAR check before Salah was allowed to perform the kick.
The Egyptian sent Fabianski in the wrong direction and shot deep into the net for his 12th league goal of the season.
Both teams had a good start to the second half when Lanzini took a good opportunity that was easy to save, while Roberto Firmino turned freely to get a better stop from Fabianski at the other end.
A feature of Klopp's side, however, is that they can strike with lethal force during the break.
A West Ham corner was cleared before Jordan Henderson found Salah. His great pass showed Oxlade-Chamberlain, who graduated with precision to give Liverpool a healthy pillow.
West Ham had chances when Alisson fended off an excellent parade and Snodgrass and Trent Alexander-Arnold tried to forcefully hit the ball against his own post.
However, the game belonged to Liverpool when Salah met the woodwork before the guests crossed out full-time.
Reporting by Toby Davis,; Edited by Ian Chadband and Ed Osmond