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Liverpool’s speed kings Salah and Mane combine to leave Hart on his knees

8:16 PM GMT 04/11/2017
Sadio Mane Mo Salah
The Egyptian and Senegalese star combined to explosive effect as the Reds secured a 4-1 victory at West Ham

Within two minutes of the first whistle, Joe Hart was scrambling to foil Liverpool’s attacking might and by the 24th, he had dropped to his knees - fist clenched, eyes closed as he let out an agonising scream.

When Neil Swarbrick signalled the end of the encounter, the England goalkeeper’s face had an overlay of relief. And understandably so too.

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West Ham’s rearguard did little to assist him in combating two of the Premier League’s explosive difference-makers in Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, who were wonderfully supported by Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

If the Senegal international was one of the signings of last summer, the Egyptian is certainly speeding away with that status this year.

He has already had a hand in 15 goals in all competitions this season with 12 successful strikes and three assists - more than any of his team-mates.

Salah and Mane do not just come alive in the final third, they are always active, always an option, always looking to harass those in possession and humiliate those tasked with keeping their trickery in check.

They are tireless, and together they are dynamite, which West Ham discovered to their detriment. As Liverpool look to steer towards their ambitions after a stuttering two months, the African duo will be the navigators-in-chief.

Mane, returning after a five-game absence due to a hamstring injury sustained on international duty, assisted Salah for Liverpool’s first and fourth goal.

The opener displayed the majesty of their counter-attacking talent. Manuel Lanzini whipped in a corner for West Ham, and in 13 seconds, Liverpool were at the opposite end of the pitch and 1-0 up.

The delivery was headed away and found Salah, who knocked it past Edimilson Fernandes to Mane. He swiftly carried the ball forward with the ‘King of Egypt’ and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain motoring forward in support. Mane lured Aaron Cresswell in and played a ball at the perfect time and with the perfect weight to Salah, who finished calmly past Hart.

Before West Ham could recover from that blow, another set-piece caused them more concern. Mark Noble misdirected a near-post corner from Liverpool towards his own goal, and despite the keeper making the initial save, Joel Matip was waiting to tap in.

The hosts at London Stadium were too passive without the ball, positively panicky on it and were desperate for the interval.

The introduction of Andy Carroll in the second period offered the Hammers the opportunity to go more direct and get more aggressive. The fear they displayed in the opening 45 dissipated and the boos from the crowd were transformed into encouragement, especially after Lanzini’s stellar goal on 55 minutes.

Andre Ayew pinged a hopeful ball to the far post and the Argentine backed away from Joe Gomez, controlled on his chest and superbly lifted his effort over Simon Mignolet.

Just 55 seconds later, Oxlade-Chamberlain netted his first league goal for Liverpool after Firmino’s brilliance and it was then the Mane and Salah show again to wrap up the result.

The former danced in possession, persisted when he was fouled and had the time to send an intelligent chipped ball across to his fellow speedster. Salah had time to take the ball down and rocket in an excellent low shot into the far corner.

Hart won’t be the only goalkeeper to be left on his knees in the league by the duo this season.