Premier League leaders Liverpool opened up a 22-point gap at the top of the table after second-half goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah with a brace gave them a 4-0 win over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.
It was Liverpool’s 20th successive home win in the Premier League dating back to last season, matching Manchester City’s record set between March 2011 and March 2012.
It left them on 73 points from 25 games and needing 21 points from their remaining 13 fixtures to be mathematically sure of winning their first league title since 1990.
Another clinical performance by Liverpool left second-placed champions City, who visit Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, with an almost impossible task to retain their title.
Liverpool’s 22-point advantage is the biggest of any league leader at the end of a day in English top-flight history, with their latest win pleasing the club’s captain Henderson.
“It was a difficult game especially in the first half,” he told Sky Sports. “They are a good team in form and they gave it a right go. We started the second half well and kicked on from there. We’re delighted with the result.
“Alisson had to make a few good saves again but overall it’s a brilliant win. We need to use this time as best we can to rest and when we come back be fresh to go again.”
Missing the injured Sadio Mane, Liverpool looked somewhat disjointed in the first half with Alisson twice denying Danny Ings after Southampton’s Alex McCarthy made an excellent double save at the other end.
But the floodgates opened after Oxlade-Chamberlain fired the home side ahead in the 47th minute when he cut inside from the left and wrong-footed McCarthy with a swerving low drive from the edge of the penalty area.
Henderson doubled the lead on the hour when he lashed the ball into the roof of the net from 10 metres thanks to some good work by Roberto Firmino, who broke down the left flank and squared the ball back to his skipper.
The lively Salah put the icing on the cake with two late goals – a dinked 72nd-minute finish followed by a scrambled stoppage time effort after he was released by Firmino, who racked up a hat-trick of assists.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was also delighted although he praised Southampton’s first-half effort.
“The set-up of Southampton I could not give more credit to,” he told the BBC. “They had too many shots on target and we had to change in the second half. That helped massively and when we are rolling it’s difficult to stop.”