Virgil van Dijk could hardly believe his luck.
Nine yards out and totally unmarked, the Liverpool man made the most of it. His volley was firm, too firm for Alex McCarthy in the Southampton goal. In it went, the Dutchman’s megawatt smile lighting up a gloomy November afternoon at Anfield.
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Van Dijk’s goal, his first since the opening day of last season, would put the seal on this most routine of home victories. Forget Storm Arwen, it was the Red Hurricane doing the damage here.
Jurgen Klopp’s side simply cannot stop scoring this season. That’s 39 in 13 Premier League games so far, and this was the 17th consecutive game in which they have scored two or more goals.
We are used to this side breaking records, but still these numbers jar. Anfield has never known anything like this.
Van Dijk is the 13th different Liverpool player to find the net this season, and the Reds now have the Premier League’s top three goalscorers.
Incredibly, two of them failed to notch here. It was a rare dry afternoon for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, with Diogo Jota instead taking centre-stage.
The Portugal international scored twice in the first half, taking his tally for the season to eight in all competitions. He, Salah and Mane alone have 34.
“We will need to be creative,” Jurgen Klopp had said on Friday, pointing out that Southampton are one of the league’s most resilient and well-organised outfits.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had successfully stifled Manchester City earlier in the season, and ran Chelsea close at Stamford Bridge too.
They were undone swiftly here, though. It took Liverpool just 97 seconds to unlock the door, Andy Robertson escaping down the left to cross low for Jota, whose poacher’s instinct was on full display as he slid in to score.
He was in the right place at the right time to bag the second, too, benefiting from slick build-up play between Jordan Henderson and Salah to tap home at the far post.
There were only 32 minutes gone, and the game looked done and dusted. It certainly was when Thiago Alcantara grabbed Liverpool’s third, five minutes later.
The Spain international netted spectacularly against Porto on Wednesday, and he was smiling again here, although this time his shot needed a heavy deflection off Saints defender Lyanco before beating McCarthy.
Van Dijk put the icing on the cake seven minutes after half-time, Trent Alexander-Arnold collecting his ninth assist in his last five starts for club and country.
Hasenhuttl, one suspects, would have taken the final whistle there and then.
Liverpool were able to play out the remainder in second gear, the main question being whether they could keep hold of their clean sheet (yes) and whether Salah would be able to get his goal (no).
The Egyptian will have been frustrated, as was Jota when replaced by Takumi Minamino when chasing his hat-trick, but there is little to frown about where Liverpool are concerned.
They look in good touch since the international break, and after an injury-hit autumn, their squad is starting to look reassuringly strong again.
They will be delighted at the performance of Robertson, who delivered his best display of the season having come back in for Kostas Tsimikas.
Competition seems to be bringing the best out of those two, and the same can be said in midfield, where Thiago and Henderson controlled proceedings before making way for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner.
In the next couple of weeks, the likes of Curtis Jones, Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino should return to boost numbers further. Klopp may have as much trouble picking his bench as he has his first XI, one that happens.
In the meantime, Liverpool stroll on. It’s the short hop across Stanley Park to Everton next.
Stop them if you can.