December 29, 2018 / 7:25 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer-Firmino hat-trick fires Liverpool to 5-1 win over Arsenal

* Liverpool overpower Arsenal 5-1 to go nine clear of Spurs

* Ainsley Maitland-Niles put Arsenal ahead in 11th minute

* Roberto Firmino levelled three minutes later

* Brilliant Firmino solo goal put Liverpool in front in 16th

* Sadio Mane made it 3-1 after Mohamed Salah assist

* Salah penalty on stroke of halftime gave Reds 4-1 lead

* Firmino’s 65th minute penalty extended lead

* Liverpool are at Man City on Jan 3, Arsenal host Fulham on Jan 1

LIVERPOOL 5 ARSENAL 1

Dec 29 (Reuters) - Roberto Firmino struck a hat-trick as rampant Liverpool opened up a nine point lead at the top of the Premier League after crushing Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday.

Arsenal stunned the home crowd by taking the lead in the 11th minute - Ainsley Maitland-Niles scoring his first league goal for the club as he connected at the back post with an Alex Iwobi cross.

It was the first time Juergen Klopp’s side had trailed at home since December 30, 2017 but just three minutes later they were back on level terms.

Mohamed Salah jinked into the box and went down under a challenge but the ball fell to Firmino who made no mistake with a cheeky ‘no look’ finish.

Firmino then showed his full range of skills with a brilliant solo goal as he dribbled past three Arsenal defenders before slotting home with his left foot.

Sadio Mane made it 3-1, converting a low Salah cross after a brilliant cross-field pass from Andy Robertson and then on the stroke of halftime Salah made it 4-1 from the spot after he had been brought down in the box.

Firmino completed his hat-trick, from the penalty spot, driving home in front of the Kop after Sead Kolasinac was ruled to have pushed over Dejan Lovren.

Liverpool are nine points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who lost 3-1 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Third-place Manchester City, who are ten behind Liverpool, can close the gap if they beat Southampton on Sunday. (Reporting by Simon Evans Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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