Mohamed Salah capped off a truly remarkable season for Liverpool by overtaking three footballing legends on his way to an incredible Premier League record.
Liverpool warmed-up for the Champions League final in style by guaranteeing their place in the competition next season as Salah set a new benchmark in the 4-0 thrashing of Brighton.
Salah’s 32 Premier League strikes sees the Egyptian surpass the record of 31 goals in a 38-game season shared by greats Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
Andy Cole and Shearer hold the record for most goals in a Premier League season with 34 but that was when it was a 42-round competition.
The Egyptian finished two goals ahead of Golden Boot runner-up Harry Kane, with the Spurs striker becoming the first player to score 30 goals in a season and not win the award.
It completed a clean sweep of awards for Salah, who was voted PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, while also claiming two more awards at Liverpool’s end-of-season ceremony.
10 – Mohamed Salah is the first @LFC player to record double figures for both goals and assists in a Premier League season since both Luis Suarez (31 & 12) and Steven Gerrard (13 & 13) in 2013-14. Perfect.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 13, 2018
Liverpool faced the uncomfortable scenario of travelling to Kiev to face the might of Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 26 having to win to qualify for next season’s competition had results gone against them.
However, there was little doubt over the outcome once Salah eased any nerves by swivelling to strike his first goal in four games on 26 minutes to take his tally in all competitions this season to 44.
“I’m really proud of the boys, a nearly perfect season,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“We had no chance to challenge Man City so the only thing you can go for is a Champions League spot. It is a big thing.”
17 – Mo Salah has scored against 17 different Premier League opponents this season; no player has ever scored against more in a single campaign in the competition. Variety. pic.twitter.com/EAum9Bkex3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 13, 2018
“He was fantastic. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be if everybody tells you every day how brilliant you are but not only that, they give you an Oscar, an award for this and award for that, for getting out of the car without an accident.
“It is really difficult to stay focused but he is focused. He now has two weeks to prepare for our biggest game.”
Dejan Lovren, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson were also on target as Klopp could even afford the luxury of substituting Salah in the second-half.
Liverpool were under little pressure all afternoon as Chelsea slumped to a 10th Premier League defeat of the season in the north-east.
Dwight Gayle and two goals for Ayoze Perez piled ever more pressure on Chelsea boss Antonio Conte just six days ahead of what could be the Italian’s final game in charge in the FA Cup final against Manchester United.
“Newcastle showed greater desire and fight, and if we play like this in the FA Cup final we don’t have a chance,” said Conte.
Victory for Liverpool meant it didn’t matter what fifth-placed Chelsea did at Newcastle, but they failed to put any sort of pressure on the Champions League finalists by succumbing limply to a 3-0 defeat at St. James’s Park.
Gabriel Jesus’s stoppage time winner for Manchester City in a 1-0 victory at Southampton saw the champions set another record landmark by becoming the first side in English top flight history to reach 100 points.
At the other end of the table, Swansea’s seven-season stay in the Premier League came to an end as they were relegated to the Championship after a 2-1 defeat by Stoke.