LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Slaloming past opponents at a snowy Anfield, Mohamed Salah produced a blizzard of goals in his most devastating performance yet for Liverpool.
Salah scored his first Liverpool hat trick, added another goal for good measure and created one for Roberto Firmino in a 5-0 Premier League victory over Watford on Saturday.
It took Liverpool up to third place between Manchester United and Tottenham, who on Saturday were securing their passages to the FA Cup semifinals.
Not even a 2-0 victory over Brighton was enough to mellow United manager Jose Mourinho, whose joy at beating Liverpool last weekend in the league was wiped out by a Champions League exit to Sevilla.
“We didn’t play the way I want the players to play. I didn’t have the reaction from all of them,” Mourinho said after United managed only two shots on target against Brighton.
They scored from both: Headers from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic.
“I wanted more personality in the team because many, many times I felt that Matic was an island,” Mourinho said. “An island of personality, desire and control surrounded — not by water — but surrounded by lack of personality, lack of class, lack of desire.”
The type of class and desire on show at Swansea, where Christian Eriksen scored twice in Tottenham’s 3-0 victory.
On a day that flittered between league and cup matches in England, the focus in the afternoon was on the relegation scrap.
Stoke and West Bromwich Albion remained in the bottom two places after 2-1 losses.
Junior Stanislas sealed Bournemouth’s win over bottom club West Brom. Cenk Tosun netted twice for Everton at Stoke, which had Charlie Adam dismissed for a lunge on Wayne Rooney.
Crystal Palace escaped the drop zone by beating Huddersfield 2-0, with Southampton dropping into it having played a game fewer.
EUROPE’S LEADING SCORER
Salah became Liverpool’s record signing when he joined from Roma for 42 million euros (then $47 million) in the offseason.
That’s looking like a bargain now with him outscoring every player in Europe’s top five leagues. Even Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
“I don’t think Mo or anybody else wants to be compared with Lionel Messi,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.
“He is the one who has been doing what he’s been doing for what feels like 20 years or so. The last player I know who had the same influence on a team performance was Diego Maradona.”
Salah exchanged passes with Sadio Mane before chasing down the ball in the penalty area to embark on a jinking run that ended with Liverpool’s opener in the 4th minute. The second, just before halftime, was less audacious, with Salah in the right place to meet Andrew Robertson’s cross with a tap-in.
Salah turned provider at the start of the second half with a near-post cross back-heeled into the net by Firmino. The match ball was secured by Salah in the 77th minute, aiming a low shot inside the far post after being fed by Mane.
The Egypt forward became the first Liverpool player since Luis Suarez in 2013 to score four in a game when he struck with five minutes remaining.
KANE NOT MISSED
In South Wales, Tottenham coped well without star striker Harry Kane, who is likely to be out until next month because of an ankle injury.
Son Heung-min started as Kane’s replacement and had a goal disallowed for offside, with the decision being confirmed by the video assistant referee.
But Tottenham was already leading at that stage.
Eriksen was allowed to advance to the edge of the area by Swansea’s retreating defenders before the Denmark playmaker curled a left-foot shot into the corner in the 11th minute.
Erik Lamela scored from similar range, and in similar circumstances, in first-half injury time before Eriksen fired home a low shot from 20 meters in the 62nd.
The FA Cup represents Tottenham’s last chance of silverware this season after getting eliminated from the Champions League by Juventus last week.
And the semifinal is at a neutral venue familiar to Tottenham this season: Wembley. Tottenham has taken up temporary residence this season at the national stadium while its home at White Hart Lane is being redeveloped.
In the other quarterfinal matches on Sunday, Chelsea visits Leicester and third-tier Wigan is at home to Southampton.