Liverpool moved to within touching distance of their first title in 30 years as Crystal Palace were brutally dismissed behind closed doors at Anfield.
Manchester City must now win at Chelsea on Thursday to further delay the inevitability of Liverpool’s coronation as Premier League champions.
After the goalless Merseyside derby at Everton on Sunday, they shook off the cobwebs in their first home game since the campaign was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic to beat Palace with almost embarrassing ease.
Anfield may have been home to only around 300 people but Liverpool played with familiar intensity, although Palace’s cause was hardly helped by the early loss of Wilfried Zaha to injury.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was on target with a superb free-kick after 22 minutes and Mohamed Salah effectively settled the contest with a cool finish from Fabinho’s brilliant pass just before the break.
And Fabinho produced something even more special in the 54th minute when he drilled a magnificent rising right-foot finish past Wayne Hennessey from more than 30 yards.
Salah turned provider after 69 minutes with a slide-rule pass to Sadio Mane, who finished with precision as Liverpool’s superiority was stamped all over this game.
Fabinho’s extra special night
Liverpool’s world-class attacking trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah take most of the headlines – but no-one should underestimate the influence of Brazilian Fabinho.
The languid midfield man is the complete operator and showed all sides of his game in what turned into a stroll.
He ran midfield while demonstrating his class as a creator and goalscorer to simply underline the role he has played in Liverpool’s romp to the Premier League this season.
Fabinho’s pass to pick out Salah for Liverpool’s second goal was a masterpiece of touch and vision, while he again showed his potency from long range by flashing that stunning goal past the helpless Hennessey in front of a Kop populated by flags on what might be their last game before clinching the title.
Liverpool’s season has been a complete team performance and Fabinho, understated but hugely influential, has played his full part despite a lengthy absence through injury in the middle of the campaign.
Palace outclassed on painful night
Crystal Palace arrived at Anfield accompanied by talk of European qualification after a very solid showing under manager Roy Hodgson this season and their very impressive first ‘Project Restart’ win at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Palace had put together four straight Premier League wins but this was a harrowing night, not helped by losing Zaha, their most dangerous player, early on to an injury he appeared to pick up in the warm-up.
For all the good work Palace have done this term, they simply had no answer to Liverpool as they were ripped apart at regular intervals.
Taken in full context, this has still been a fine season for Palace, as they reside comfortably in the top 10.
Liverpool could travel to Manchester City as champions on Thursday, 2 July (20:15 BST kick-off). Meanwhile, Crystal Palace host Burnley on Monday, 29 June (20:00 kick-off).