Curtis & Trent rock the Reds to seven straight wins
Curtis Jones scored twice as in-form Liverpool brushed aside hapless Leicester to maintain their recent winning streak and push the Foxes closer to Premier League relegation.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won their past seven games to bolster their push for a top-four finish and now lie a point behind Newcastle and Manchester United, albeit having played a game more.
Another dismal loss for Leicester leaves the 2016 Premier League champions firmly rooted in danger in 19th position, two points adrift of safety with only two games remaining.
The Reds scored twice in the space of three first-half minutes through the same combination, Mohamed Salah twice feeding Jones who finished confidently to claim his first Premier League double.
It should have been 3-0 before half-time but home goalkeeper Daniel Iversen made a superb reaction save to deny Cody Gakpo from close range.
Salah claimed his third assist in the second period by laying off a free-kick for Trent Alexander-Arnold to curl a sublime finish into the top corner.
Liverpool maintain hunt for top-four finish
Has Liverpool’s charge for a Champions League spot come too late?
The two Uniteds above them need two wins from their last three games to guarantee a top-four finish but Liverpool are right on their tails and poised to profit from any mishaps.
The Reds started slowly at Leicester, Luis Diaz smashing into the side-netting and Fabinho blazing over the pick of their early openings.
But they clicked into gear on the half-hour mark as midfielder Jones took his tally to three goals in his last four games.
His first was a controlled finish at the far post from Salah’s deep cross and the second he thumped home following the Egyptian’s through ball.
Salah provided a hat-trick of assists by rolling the ball off for Alexander-Arnold’s stunning second-half strike, but the Egyptian must wait for his 20th goal of the campaign after a remarkable miss late on, putting wide when through on goal.
Liverpool face European-chasing Aston Villa at home on Saturday and round off their season against relegated Southampton knowing maximum points in those games may complete a stunning turnaround in an otherwise disappointing season.
Foxes continue wretched run
Leicester look doomed and are prime candidates to join Southampton in the Championship next season.
The Foxes have collected just one win in their last 14 games – earning six points in total during that run – and lost at home for a club-record equalling 10th time this season.
Their frailties lie at the back where boss Dean Smith made another change by giving a start and handing the captain’s armband to Jonny Evans, who has played one minute of top-flight football in the last seven months.
But it was ill-fated defensive partner Wout Faes – the scorer of two own goals in December’s reverse fixture – who was culpable for both of Jones’ strikes.
The Belgian lost the flight of the ball for the first, failing to clear as the it dropped from the sky, and was caught out of position for the second, running out to intercept a pass without success.
The hosts had shown bright sparks early on but their confidence ebbed away alarmingly once they conceded.
Harvey Barnes forced Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson into a fine flying save with a curling effort in the second half, but the sorry home side never looked like making a comeback.
The Foxes have fixtures remaining at Newcastle and home to West Ham as they bid to avoid the ignominy of relegation just seven years after their remarkable title triumph.
Leicester supporters left King Power Stadium in their droves with 20 minutes remaining against Liverpool and their Premier League fate could well have been sealed by the time they return.
Have Dean Smith’s side ‘gone’ after damaging defeat?
The Foxes face West Ham here on the final day of the season but Monday evening’s 3-0 loss feels like a crucial moment.
Leicester are firmly rooted in trouble after defeat by Liverpool, languishing in 19th place and two points adrift of safety, and need an extraordinary turnaround in fortunes to preserve their top-flight status.
“It’s not the margin of the defeat, it’s the manner of the defeat. It’s how they crumbled after that first Liverpool goal,” former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Leicester just folded and from that point they offered very, very little.
“It’s the same defensive frailties. For the first 25 minutes they played really well in this game, they had the best opportunities and were pushing Liverpool back but as soon as the first Liverpool goal went in you could almost feel the confidence just sapped out of this Leicester side.
‘We haven’t been good this season’
That sombre mood soon turned into venomous anger.
A cacophony of jeers and rattling of seats from supporters emptying out of the stadium after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s stunning strike on 70 minutes echoed loudly around the arena.
Liverpool were already cruising at that stage following two goals from Curtis Jones in the first half, and it could have been so much worse but for poor finishing from the visitors.
The fans who remained until the end screamed “you’re not fit to wear the shirt!” – just as they did in the demoralising 5-3 loss at Fulham last time out – and hopes of survival seem to have evaporated with further chants of “we are going down”.
Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha witnessed another dismal defeat, shaking his head in the stands at full-time alongside director of football Jon Rudkin.
“The crowd are here to see us try to win football games,” Smith told Sky Sports. “They get disappointed when you’re two goals down at half-time. You understand that when goals go against you.
“That is only my third home game and it’s the first home defeat we’ve had. They were magnificent in the first two against Everton and Wolves. No football fan wants to see their team get beaten.”
Asked why they have struggled so badly this season, returning defender Jonny Evans said: “It’s hard to put your finger on it. We haven’t been good this season. That’s the bottom line. We’ve lost too many games and other teams have been better than us.
“Two more games left, we’ll have to put in the same effort we did tonight.”
‘I think that’s the end of them tonight’
On this very day only two years ago, Leicester were riding the crest of a wave as they stunned Chelsea at Wembley to win the FA Cup.
And, on this day in 2016, Leicester went to Stamford Bridge where they were given a guard of honour by Chelsea having clinched their incredible title triumph.
Those heady heights now seem a lifetime away.
“They look drained,” former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville said on Sky Sports. “Not just on the pitch but off the pitch, which is worrying.
“The fans have obviously turned, at half-time they were booing and it’s a massive problem for them. You think Leicester may have to win two games – they’re in massive, massive trouble.
“I think they look like a group of players who are beaten. Anything can happen, but I genuinely feel Leicester tonight have gone and there’s no coming back from it.
“I think that’s the end of them tonight.”
Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher added: “You hear the fans singing ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt…’ going into training tomorrow, I don’t know how they lift themselves for that Newcastle game.”