Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates (Getty)
Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all scored twice as Liverpool shrugged off a season of frustration to thrash Manchester United 7-0 at Anfield on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men set a new record margin of victory in the clash between English football’s two most successful clubs.
Just a second defeat in 23 games in all competitions realistically ends United’s hopes of a first league title in a decade as they remain 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal in third.
But there could even more lasting damage from the club’s heaviest defeat since 1931.
Liverpool close to within three points of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand on Spurs still to come.
Klopp’s side won the two league meetings between the teams by an aggregate score of 9-0 last season, but the tables had seemingly turned this season.
A 2-1 win over the Reds in August gave Erik ten Hag his first win as United boss and they started the day 10 points clear of Liverpool.
Liverpool have looked a shadow of the side that came close to an unprecedented quadruple of trophies last season.
But either side of a 5-2 humiliation on home soil by Real Madrid, they have got back in the race for a place in the Champions League next season thanks to a run of 13 points from a possible 15 in the Premier League.
Ten Hag told his players to embrace the hostile environment of Anfield, where United have not won since 2016.
Previous biggest victories by both clubs in their long-running rivalry:
Liverpool 7 Newton Heath 1, Second Division, 1895
Liverpool 7 Manchester United 4, First Division, 1908
Liverpool 7 Manchester United 1, Lancashire Section Tournament (war years), 1916
Liverpool 5, Manchester United 0, First Division 1925
Manchester United 6 Liverpool 1, First Division, 1928
Liverpool 0 Manchester United 5, North Region War League 1946
Manchester United 5 Liverpool 0, First Division, 1946
Manchester United 5 Liverpool 1, First Division, 1953
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 5, Premier League, 2021
Liverpool 7 Manchester United 0, Premier League, 2023
The visitors were forced to see off an early onslaught, but still arguably had the better chances of a fractious first half.
Bruno Fernandes headed inches wide and Marcus Rashford should have continued his blistering goalscoring form when he fired tamely into the arms of Alisson.
Casemiro also saw a goal ruled out for offside, but Liverpool finally produced a moment of quality in the final third to break the deadlock two minutes before the break.
Andy Robertson sliced open the United defence to play in Gakpo, who cut inside and fired low into the far corner.
Ten Hag’s men were then blown away in the second period as Liverpool’s new-look front three finally clicked.
Nunez punished sloppy United defending as the Uruguayan stooped to head in Harvey Elliott’s cross.
Moments later, Gakpo scored his second with a delightful dink over David de Gea at the end of a lightning Liverpool counter-attack.
It could have been even worse for United as Robertson and Ibrahima Konate saw efforts fly inches wide.
But Salah got the goal his performance deserved as he crashed in Nunez’s through ball off the underside of the bar.
Nunez then headed in his second as he was left completely unmarked from Jordan Henderson’s cross.
Salah moved outright as Liverpool’s all-time Premier League goalscorer with 129 with a simple tap in after more shambolic United defending.
Roberto Firmino will move on to pastures new at the end of the season it was revealed this week.
But the Brazilian came off the bench to have the final say as he slotted a remarkable seventh two minutes from time.