by Kieran CANNING / AFP
LIVERPOOL – Two moments of magic from Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool remain the only unbeaten side left in the Premier League this season after an enthralling 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.
For 45 minutes City’s collective brilliance threatened to blow the Reds away and inflict a first league defeat at Anfield in front of supporters since 2017.
However, for all the beautiful football put together by Pep Guardiola’s array of creative midfielders, the English champions cannot call on a clinical finisher in the same league as Salah.
The Egyptian showed the other side to his game in creating Liverpool’s opening goal for Sadio Mane with a perfectly-weighted pass after skipping beyond Joao Cancelo.
But it was his finish for his side’s second that will live long in the memory.
Cancelo was this time one of four City defenders left trailing as Salah shrugged off the attentions of Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva before turning Aymeric Laporte and firing high past Ederson on his weaker right foot.
“Only the best players in the world score goals like this,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. “Absolutely exceptional.
“Because this club never forgets anything, people will still talk about this goal in 50-60 years when they remember this game.”
Salah has now scored in seven consecutive games and has nine in as many matches this season, evoking memories of his sensational 44-goal debut season at Anfield in 2017/18.
“Right now he is as sharp and as good as I’ve seen him,” former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports.
“I don’t see anyone playing better in the world at this moment in time. His record and his start to this season has been absolutely outstanding.”
Liverpool will need their main man to maintain those standards if they are to take the title back from City.
Eight days on from schooling Chelsea on their own patch, Guardiola’s men also had Liverpool chasing shadows for the first-half.
However, not for the first time this season, City did not make their dominance show on the scoreboard without a natural striker as chances came and went for Foden and De Bruyne.
Both midfielders made amends to equalise in the second-half and keep the early running for the title race tantalisingly poised.
Chelsea top the table by a point from Liverpool with City and Manchester United just one point further back after seven games.
Liverpool were the only one of the four realistic title contenders who did not spend over £100 million ($135 million) in the transfer window.
Ibrahima Konate’s arrival for £36 million was the Reds’ only summer signing and they may lack the depth of squad over the long haul, particularly with Salah and Mane set to depart for up to a month for the Africa Cup of Nations early next year.
Instead, Liverpool have invested heavily over the past two years in tying down their key players to long-term contracts with one notable exception.
Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho are among those to commit their future to the club.
Salah’s current deal is set to expire in 2023 and the 29-year-old knows his worth to Klopp’s men as negotiations over a new deal have dragged on.
Liverpool will have to splash out to get Salah to extend his stay, but on this form he is worth it as the man who could win them the league.