Football

Sizzling Salah earns plaudits

Egyptian star feted by his manager, teammates and the media after his 14th goal of the season

No player in Liverpool's rich history has scored more goals after their first 12 Premier League appearances than Mohamed Salah, who bagged a brace in Liverpool's comfortable 3-0 win over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

The Egyptian is the Premier League's top scorer on nine goals, eclipsing Reds favourite Robbie Fowler's record of eight goals in his first 12 matches.

Salah opened the scoring against the Saints with a rasping long-range drive on 31 minutes and added a second 10 minutes later with clever movement and a sharp finish after latching on to a Philippe Coutinho through-ball. The Brazilian rounded off the scoring himself on 68 minutes.

Salah, who joined from Roma for £36.9 million (S$66.1m), now has 14 goals in all competitions and was feted by his manager, teammates and the British press alike after another impressive performance.

The Independent hailed the wide forward's qualities as "Lionel Messi-eque", the Daily Mail opined that he is transforming matches as well as Liverpool's season while the Guardian believes the 25-year-old is exceeding all expectations.

Said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp: "He is in a good moment. It's good for us.

"The first goal, the ball was away and we fought back somehow. That is not a real chance from there, I would say. It was a fantastic goal.

"The second goal? Fantastic play. What a pass. I'm pretty sure Philippe Coutinho has played a few passes like this in his life but it is not often you get it in the box and someone is not offside. That is quite rare."

Reds skipper Jordan Henderson said it's not just goals that makes Salah special.

He told the Liverpool website: "I just want him to keep going. He hasn't taken his foot off the gas.

"He's working hard in training and in games. It's not just his scoring, it is his work rate.

"He has been brilliant for all the season so far. He has to keep it going for us."

Right back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who also had a good game, said he is happy he doesn't have to come up against Salah.

He told the Liverpool website: "He's a top quality player and we are very grateful and happy to have him on our team and not be playing against him.

"He's got everything in his locker to be fair and it's very hard to stop him from doing what he wants to do.

"He plays to his abilities, he does fantastically well and he adds a lot to this team."

However, not everyone was certain Salah would have such a profound impact on his new club.

Upon his arrival at Anfield, former Liverpool European Cup winner Steve Nicol said on ESPN: "It's a lot of money for... a player, who, if everybody is fit, I don't think starts.

"You play Coutinho on the left, you play (Sadio) Mane on the right.

"I don't think you play Salah through the middle, that means he doesn't start."

Former Chelsea and England midfielder Ray Wilkins shared that sentiment, telling talkSPORT: "They have enough forward options, I don't think they needed Salah."

Meanwhile, former Tottenham Hostpur and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas said on the BBC after Liverpool's 5-0 loss to league leaders Manchester City in September: "He has been brilliant so far but, does Mo Salah even start for Liverpool if Coutinho is back in the team?

"You've got Adam Lallana to come in as well."

Just 18 games into his Liverpool career, it is clear that the trio are Salah (Malay for wrong) about Mo. - WIRE SERVICES

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