Nov 29 (Reuters) - A first-half goal from Sadio Mane and a double by livewire substitute Mohamed Salah after the break gave Liverpool a 3-0 win at Stoke City on Wednesday as they continued their push towards the Premier League’s top four.
The result left Liverpool fifth on 26 points from 14 games, two behind fourth-placed Arsenal and three adrift of third-placed Chelsea as they stretched their unbeaten league run to five games.
It also delighted manager Juergen Klopp, who praised Salah after the Egypt forward came off the bench in the 67th minute and showed his class with a brilliant volley followed by a clinical finish.
“Thank you is all I said to Mohamed Salah, it is nice to come on in a situation like this,” Klopp told the BBC.
“That is a proper away game, it is a difficult place. It was very deserved and we are very happy.”
Mane fired Liverpool ahead with a superbly dinked finish in the 17th minute after right back Joe Gomez kept the ball in play and pulled it back for Dominic Solanke, who threaded it through to the Senegal winger.
As Stoke briefly regained their composure, Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for a lunging tackle on the edge of his penalty area, although Klopp defended the referee’s decision.
“I don’t think it was lucky with Simon Mignolet, there were two defenders around the situation and he is not the last man,” said the German.
Mane hit the outside of the post with only goalkeeper Lee Grant to beat in the 42nd minute before Liverpool’s former midfielder Joe Allen squandered two gilt-edged chances for Stoke after the break.
The Wales international had a shot deflected inches wide of the far post and then volleyed over the bar from seven metres before Salah lit up the final quarter of the match.
Having replaced Solanke, he made it 2-0 in the 77th minute when he hammered his volley past Grant after Mane broke down the right and delivered an inch-perfect cross.
Salah got on the end of a poor back-pass six minutes later and buried the ball past Grant to delight the away fans before Stoke spurned a late chance to pull one back, when three players with only Mignolet to beat managed to miss the target.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis