Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League with an emphatic 4-0 win over closest challengers Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
Two goals from Roberto Firmino, a penalty by substitute James Milner and a sweet strike by star of the show Trent Alexander-Arnold gave the newly crowned world champions a thoroughly deserved victory.
It is 35 league games unbeaten for Jurgen Klopp’s side now and with their advantage currently standing at 13 points it seems unlikely that they will be denied a first league title in 30 years.
Alexander-Arnold tested Kasper Schmeichel inside 40 seconds and Sadio Mane should have scored moments after that as Liverpool gave an early indication of the troubles they would cause Leicester’s back-line.
Mohamed Salah had missed a good chance even before rounding Schmeichel and hitting the side-netting in the 11th minute and when Jordan Henderson had a shot deflected over soon after, the home side were rocking.
Brendan Rodgers, up against his former club, might have hoped his team had regrouped by the half-hour mark but a long spell of possession resulted in Firmino’s opening goal.
Alexander-Arnold popped up on the left and his curling cross eluded Ben Chilwell at the far post to allow Firmino to head low past the outstretched leg of Schmeichel.
With Jonny Evans struggling to cope with Liverpool’s movement, Mane had a wonderful chance to double the lead within minutes only to see his shot well saved by Schmeichel.
Leicester were lucky to get to the break just one goal behind but the pattern of the game only became more pronounced after the interval as they struggled to get out of their own half.
Liverpool made two changes to the team that beat Watford last time out in the Premier League with Andrew Robertson and Naby Keita returning at the expense of James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri. That meant there was only one change from the team that beat Flamengo in the Club World Cup final – Georginio Wijnaldum back in place of the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Just when they managed to build up some pressure of their own, Liverpool won a corner on the counter-attack and Caglar Soyuncu was adjudged to have committed handball from the subsequent cross.
Milner, who had only come on seconds earlier, converted the resultant spot-kick with ease by sending Schmeichel the wrong way and any lingering resistance from Leicester was extinguished.
Firmino added his second of the night on 74 minutes when he finished off a move that he had started – calmly slotting home yet another Alexander-Arnold cross.
And then Alexander-Arnold was there rampaging up the right-wing yet again to connect beautifully with Mane’s lay-off before embracing the adulation of the away fans in the corner of the King Power Stadium.
What a night for Liverpool. What a month for Liverpool. What a year for Liverpool. In this form, it is difficult to imagine that next year will not bring that long-awaited Premier League title.