Salah, Mane-less Liverpool Thrash Brentford 3-0

Liverpool on Sunday earned a 3-0 victory over strugglers Brentford at Anfield with their African stars, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, conspicuously missing in the line-up.

The duo are honouring a call-up by their countries to feature at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon. Already, both forwards have registered their marks for their countries with Salah’s solitary goal lifting Egypt in the game against Guinea Bissau, while Mane saved Senegal blushes against Zimbabwe.

On Sunday, the Africans’ Liverpool’s teammates ensured fans would not rue their absence with goals from Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino lifting Juergen Klopp’s side above Chelsea on the table and 11 points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand. 

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City beat Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday.

A three-match winless streak in the league has seen Liverpool fall off the pace in the title race.

And despite the scoreline, Liverpool’s lack of potency in the attack was evident as they struggled to open up a determined Brentford defence.

In the final minute of the first half, Fabinho nodded home a corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold to give the home side the lead.

After the break, Brentford continued to be resilient opponents, with Diogo Jota hitting the post after Alexander-Arnold burst into the box in the 62nd minute. Brentford goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez also managed to deny Jota another chance later in the half.

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Brentford stayed in the contest until the 69th minute when Oxlade-Chamberlain headed in a cross from Andy Robertson at the back post.

After Brentford tried to play out of the back, Roberto Firmino intercepted their pass and set up Minamino for a simple finish.

Kaide Gordon, 17, was put through on goal by Fernandez but came up just short on his league debut.

“We needed these three points and a good performance so it was nice to do it in front of our fans. It will be good to grow our confidence,” said Fabinho. “The team played really well with the ball. The front three played really well. We created a lot of opportunities to score. It is a chance for everybody to show their quality and step up. We did that today.” 

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Promoted Brentford are in 14th place on 23 points.

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