In the midst of the 7-0 Liverpool annihilation of Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday at Anfield, it might have been easy to overlook a bit of history that was made. The two goals by Egypt’s Mohamed Salah made him Liverpool’s all-time league leading scorer.
The double took Salah’s Liverpool league goals to 129, breaking the record set by Robbie Fowler in 2006. Salah played 60 fewer games than Fowler.
In the Merseyside dismembering, by the time Salah made a pretzel out of Lisandro Martinez, then deftly passed for Cody Gakpo to lift over David de Gea, it was 3-0 in the 50th minute.
Salah made it 4-0 with a booming strike from a standing position.
It would be 6-0 when Salah scored his record-breaker, a first-timer in front of goal in the 83rd.
“One hundred and twenty-nine goals. That is insane,” Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp said after the United humiliation, their worst competitive defeat in more than 90 years.
“What an unbelievable number. He is a special player. We appreciate him now but in the future people will look back and be wow, we witnessed something really special.”
Ever since Salah became the Premier League’s top scorer with 32 goals in 2017-18, breaking the record for the most goals scored in a single 38-game Premier League season, he has been racking up numbers. Sunday’s brace took him to 178th Liverpool goal in all competitions, placing him seventh on the Reds’ all-time list behind the great Welshman Ian Rush who leads with 346.
If it’s all-time league goals, Salah’s 129 puts him sixth, well behind the 244 scored by Roger Hunt.
Though Salah has won three Golden Boots, including that of last year which he shared with Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min, he has scored only 11 goals this year. Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, with 27 goals, will more than likely take the boot this year.
Salah’s below average performance this season matches Liverpool’s underwhelming results. The team that was chasing the quadruple last season have fallen heavily since. They are out of two English cups and nowhere near the league title. Their hopes of Champions League glory tumbled after losing at home 5-2 to Real Madrid in the first leg of the round of 16. The return in the Bernabéu is on 15 March.
Their most realistic goal is making next season’s Champions League. As of Sunday, Liverpool were just three points behind Tottenham with a game in hand in the last fourth spot.
On his goal record, Salah called it “very special. I cannot lie. This record was in my mind since I came here. I think after my first season I was always chasing that record.”
He said his last goal out of the 129 was his most favourite and in his characteristic modesty, he said his celebrations would include his family, “have camomile tea and sleep”.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly