Lethal front 3 lifts Liverpool into 2nd place in EPL
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By STEVE DOUGLAS
The scoring prowess of Liverpool's forward line hasn't been diminished by Philippe Coutinho's departure to Barcelona.
For the second straight game, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane all scored as Liverpool climbed into second place in the English Premier League with a 4-1 home win over West Ham on Saturday.
The Reds passed a century of goals for the season, Salah moved onto 31 in all competitions - a joint-high 23 coming in the league - and Firmino continued the most efficient season of his career with a 22nd goal in 38 club appearances.
With Mane following up his hat trick against Porto in the Champions League last time out with another goal, Liverpool's front three is hardly missing the individuality of Coutinho behind them two months after the Brazilian left for Spain.
"Flexibility, being fluent, depends on all the players around," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, highlighting the movement and work rate of his attackers.
"If you see how we change positions, Roberto immediately defends each moment for Mo. Sadio is doing the same. It's really important."
Liverpool, the only member of the top six to play on Saturday, moved a point ahead of Manchester United, which hosts fourth-place Chelsea on Sunday.
Only Manchester City (111), the leader by 15 points, has more goals than Liverpool's 103 in all competitions among English clubs.
The race to avoid relegation remains tight except for last-place West Bromwich Albion, which is in danger of being cut adrift after losing at home to Huddersfield 2-1. West Brom is last by six points and the 11 teams above it are separated by eight points.
Loud boos rang around The Hawthorns at the final whistle after West Brom's fifth straight loss in all competitions. There were chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning" directed at manager Alan Pardew, who has won just one of 14 league games in charge since taking over in November as the replacement for Tony Pulis.
"This was an opportunity to get us rolling, and of course we've let that slip," said Pardew, who took charge when West Brom was in 17th place. "Unfortunately we can't wind the clock back."
Rajiv van La Parra and Steve Mounie scored to put Huddersfield 2-0 ahead by the 56th. Craig Dawson replied with a header in the 64th for West Brom.
Southampton climbed out of the relegation zone thanks to some help by a referee.
Substitute Manolo Gabbiadini scored a 90th-minute equalizer for Southampton in the 1-1 draw at Burnley after referee Bobby Madley inadvertently blocked off home midfielder Ashley Westwood to allow the Saints to break clear.
Gabbiadini smashed home from Guido Carrillo's cut-back.
Burnley was in fourth place in December, but its dreams of qualifying for Europe have diminished thanks to an 11-match winless run in the league.
Stoke stayed in the bottom three after a mistake by its goalkeeper.
With his team 1-0 up, Jack Butland failed to hold onto Leicester winger Marc Albrighton's driven cross from the right, instead fumbling the ball sideways into his own net in the 70th-minute equalizer.
Butland made amends by producing a stunning double save to deny Riyad Mahrez then Harry Maguire in quick succession, but his mistake will be better remembered.
Stoke, which went ahead in the 43rd through Xherdan Shaqiri's third goal in as many games, stayed next to last.
Newcastle squandered a two-goal lead with 10 minutes left to draw at Bournemouth 2-2, leaving itself two points above the bottom three.
Watford beat Everton 1-0 thanks to a 79th-minute goal by Troy Deeney.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
Updated February 24, 2018