by Steven Griffiths
London – Sadio Mane fired an ominous warning to Liverpool’s rivals as he insisted the Reds can still improve after warming up for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid by thrashing Watford.
Jurgen Klopp’s side powered to a 5-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday to keep their Premier League title challenge on track.
With Liverpool just one point behind leaders Chelsea, they can turn their attention to the most demanding of their Champions League Group B fixtures.
Only the third African player to reach a century of @PremierLeague goals.
Only the third player to score 100+ without any of them being penalties.
What a moment for Sadio Mane! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/kFK5I4H7ye
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 16, 2021
Having moved to the top of the group with victories over AC Milan and Porto, the six-time European Cup winners head to Madrid to face the Spanish champions.
Emerging from the Wanda Metropolitano stadium with three points will be a tricky task, but Liverpool can call on an attacking trio that once again looks the envy of the rest of Europe.
Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were unstoppable when Liverpool marched to their first Premier League title in 30 years during the 2019-20 season.
But in last term’s tame surrender of the crown, both Mane and Firmino were well below their best.
Getting all three firing in unison was an essential task for Liverpool boss Klopp this year and the demolition of Watford suggests he has achieved that goal.
Sadio Mane scores his 100th Premier League goal 💯
He’s the third African player to reach that milestone after Didier Drogba and Mo Salah pic.twitter.com/lMOrTVPkY1
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 16, 2021
It was a memorable day for Liverpool’s holy trinity.
Senegal forward Mane became only the third African to score 100 Premier League goals with a clinical finish from Salah’s pass.
“Honestly, when I came to the Premier League my dream was to score as many as I can and especially to win trophies,” Mane said of his milestone moment.
Salah produced another sublime strike, dancing through Watford defence to surpass even the brilliant goal he scored against Manchester City before the international break.
The Egypt star has scored in eight successive matches in all competitions for the first time in his career.
With 10 goals in 10 appearances in total this season, it is surely only a matter of time before Liverpool bow to the 29-year-old’s wage demands in their on-going contract talks.
“I think it’s a better goal than City. But it’s no surprise for us because we know his quality, one of the best players in the world. He showed it,” Mane said of Salah.
Then there was Brazilian forward Firmino, making the most of his first league start in five games with his first Liverpool hat-trick since 2018.
Firmino has lost his place to Diogo Jota several times since last season and his treble was a well-timed reminder to Klopp that he can still be a key figure.
“Bobby as well, he showed it, one of the best for sure in the world,” Mane said.
“It was not an easy time for him with injuries but he is back and I’m happy for him.
“Hopefully he will be here for us and score more goals for us until the end of the season.”
It was Liverpool’s biggest win since beating Crystal Palace 7-0 last December, which was the last time Firmino, Salah and Mane all scored in a top-flight game.
In the midst of a crucial stretch of fixtures, including two Champions League ties against Atletico and a visit to bitter rivals Manchester United, Liverpool’s fearsome display came at an opportune moment.
Liverpool have scored three goals or more in their six away games in all competitions this season.
However, Mane believes there will be even better to come as long as they don’t lose focus.
“We know our qualities and how hard we could make it. It’s what we did for the weekend and over the weeks,” Mane said.
“We worked very hard and we showed it today. It was just incredible and hopefully we’re going to keep like this.”