LONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 27 – Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool took advantage of their title rivals’ inactivity to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-1 win at home to Cardiff on Saturday as Bournemouth and Watford both continued their fine starts to the season.
Liverpool were the only club who started the weekend among the top five in action on Saturday, with reigning champions Manchester City not facing Tottenham Hotspur until Monday.
Meanwhile midweek European commitments also meant Chelsea, like City and Liverpool yet to lose in the Premier League this season, were playing Burnley on Sunday, when in-form Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace and Manchester United welcome Everton to Old Trafford.
Mohamed Salah, now putting a stuttering start to the season behind him, fired Liverpool into a 10th-minute lead when he pounced on a rebound from a blocked Mane shot to score his 33rd goal in 35 games at Anfield.
Mane doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 66th minute with a shot into the top corner.
– ‘Keep on track’ –
But Liverpool’s hopes of a club record 10th successive home clean sheet were dashed in the 77th minute when Callum Paterson turned in a cross deflected by Reds defender Virgil van Dijk.
However, two goals inside the final 10 minutes from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri and Mane put the result beyond doubt.
“The difference between 23 and 26 (points) feels like 20 points, but it is only three. It is really important to keep on track,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, looking to guide the Reds to their first English title since 1990.
Bournemouth closed on fifth-placed Tottenham with a 3-0 win away to Fulham.
Callum Wilson won and then scored a 14th-minute penalty after he was brought down by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
David Brooks then scored his third goal in four games to double the Cherries’ lead in the 72nd minute.
Minutes later, Fulham captain Kevin McDonald was sent off for a second bookable offence following a late challenge on Brooks.
Wilson rounded out Bournemouth’s victory when he scored his second goal five minutes from time at Craven Cottage.
“Really pleased today,” said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. “We were defensively very good.”
– Century for Brighton’s Murray –
Watford proved too strong for Huddersfield in a 3-0 win and were 2-0 up inside 19 minutes at Vicarage Road.
Roberto Pereyra broke the deadlock in the 10th minute with a superb solo effort, collecting the ball out wide on the left and beating six Huddersfield defenders as he cut inside before shooting from the edge of the area.
The Hornets doubled their lead nine minutes later when more dire Terriers defending allowed Gerard Deulofeu to score from a tight angle 15 yards out.
The aptly-named Isaac Success sealed Watford’s win 10 minutes from time.
Nevertheless, Watford manager Javi Gracia said: “I enjoyed it because we got a good result, but we have played better in other games.”
Defeat dropped Huddersfield to the bottom of the table after Newcastle, previously propping up the division, managed a point in a goalless draw at home to Southampton.
Elsewhere, Brighton striker Glenn Murray, fresh from a concussion against Newcastle, returned to score his 100th goal for the Seagulls in a 1-0 win at home to Wolves.
“Glenn Murray is a poacher, when the ball comes his way you are confident it will end up in the net,” said Brighton manager Chris Hughton of the forward’s 48th-minute goal.
Leicester left it until the closing minutes to draw 1-1 at home to 10-man West Ham in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Fabian Balbuena gave the Hammers a 30th-minute lead but eight minutes later the London club saw captain Mark Noble shown a straight red card for a studs-up, sliding tackle on Wilfred Ndidi.
Leicester pressed for an equaliser against their mid-table rivals and it arrived a minute from time when Ndidi scored with a deflected shot.