LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -Diogo Jota’s early double set Liverpool on their way to a crushing 4-0 home victory over Southampton to move up to second place in the Premier League standings on Saturday.
The Portuguese forward steered home Andrew Robertson’s cut-back to open the scoring after 97 seconds – the fastest Premier League goal this season – before his tap in following fine work from Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 inside 32 minutes.
Midfielder Thiago Alcantara added to his stunning goal against Porto in the Champions League in midweek with a third five minutes later and Virgil van Dijk helped himself to a fourth against his former club early in the second half.
Jota had a great chance to complete a hat-trick but could not connect from close range as Liverpool eased to a win that lifted them above champions Manchester City, who play West Ham United on Sunday, onto 28 points, one behind leaders Chelsea.
Southampton had their moments but could not cope defensively and the loss left them 14th on 14 points from 13 games.
“It’s always easier when you start well with a goal at home,” Jota told Sky Sports. “We knew in the past we’d been 2-0 up and not won the game but we did today and that’s important.
“I take advantage of playing for a good team. Fortunately for me I can score goals and hopefully keep doing it.”
Liverpool came into the contest having responded brilliantly to losing their unbeaten league record this season at West Ham before the international break with a 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal at Anfield last weekend.
Against Saints it was clear right from the first whistle that the hosts were in the mood for more goals, with Jota on hand to set the ball rolling after a swift counter.
Southampton had a couple of openings of their own, with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson forced into a fine save to deny Armando Broja, before Jota effectively ended the match as a contest to take his tally to seven league goals for the season.
The strike that took Thiago’s tally to two in the space of four days was not as aesthetically pleasing as the goal against Porto, with his effort taking a big deflection before finding the net this time around.
After the break, it was jst a matter of how many more Liverpool would score, with Van Dijk showing the clinical finishing of a striker from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner when volleying home the fourth.
Liverpool then took their foot off the gas with the job done. Nonetheless, they have now scored 39 league goals this season, nine more than any other Premier League team – ominous form as they prepare for a busy December schedule.
(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)