It was magnificent from Mo. Simply and utterly magnificent from Mohamed Salah as for the second Premier League game in a row he scored another outstanding goal to help return Liverpool to the top of the table.
As the storm of celebration raged around him, after his thunderous shot hit the net, Salah struck a singular celebration. He stood on one leg, his left leg crooked in the air against his right knee and put his hands together in prayer in front of the Kop.
It looked like a yoga pose, a Namaste, the Tree Pose, a moment of Zen-like, serene calm, almost, as Fabinho and Jordan Henderson rushed over and roared their approval behind him. Maybe it was also the perfect riposte to the discriminatory abuse directed at the Egyptian by a small number of Chelsea fans in midweek which the club had condemned and which Jurgen Klopp had called “disgusting”.
Salah’s 22nd goal of the season was a goal of the ages, a goal to cherish, one to remember, one to play again and again and shut up those bigots and racists and show what a player he is, someone they could never be.
In defeating Chelsea, for the first time here since 2012, there was also a collective sense of catharsis, exorcising the trauma of Steven Gerrard’s slip five years ago that cost Liverpool the last time they were this close to being champions. They even won by the same, 2-0, score-line.
Salah was in Chelsea blue that day, a peripheral player in Jose Mourinho’s second string, who lasted an hour before being substituted for Willian who then scored the late second goal to break Liverpool hearts. But no-one doubts Salah’s status now at Liverpool where he is one of the very best forwards in world football and struck what Klopp rightly labelled a “world-class” goal. “It blew me away,” he added. “A thunderbolt.” Worthy of winning any goal, for sure.
It doubled Liverpool’s advantage and came in two minutes of madness – followed by two more minutes of madness when Chelsea could, and should, amazingly have drawn level as maybe those old Liverpool nerves temporarily returned. But the stakes are so high. “They could have changed the game completely,” Klopp conceded in what was his 200th match as Liverpool manager. Chelsea could also have changed the title race, completely, but did not and Liverpool were worthy winners.
They needed to be. They kicked off within minutes of Manchester City beating Crystal Palace away to go back above them. When Palace had scored in that game the cheers of hope, rather than expectation, could be heard ringing around the Anfield concourses. But now Liverpool are back two points ahead having played a game more. It is not in their hands but they have negotiated arguably their most difficult remaining fixture while City have to face Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. No-one can call this.
Liverpool, therefore, are doing what they have to do, as Klopp also declared, and could end up with 97 points – and finish second. In fact, with four games to go Liverpool already have 85 points which is just one fewer than City gained to beat them to the title in 2014.