Liverpool flexes squad depth in 4-0 win over Bournemouth to move 5 points clear in Premier League

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Liverpool appears to have the squad depth to last the pace in the Premier League title race.

Shorn of Mohamed Salah — away at the Africa Cup of Nations — as well as creative midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai and most of their first-choice defense, the league leaders comfortably stymied the threat of in-form Bournemouth in a 4-0 away win on Sunday.

Liverpool regained its five-point lead over a trio of chasers — including defending champion Manchester City, which has a game in hand — and extended its unbeaten run in the league to 14 matches.

Indeed, the Reds' only league loss this season remains the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham in September that was filled with refereeing controversies.

Jurgen Klopp's rebuild after an offseason overhaul could hardly be going any better, with Liverpool on top of the league, looking well set to reach the English League Cup final, and still in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Diogo Jota, typically Liverpool's back-up striker, inspired the team's latest win by scoring twice after laying on the opener for Darwin Núñez — the Uruguay striker's 100th senior goal for club and country.

Núñez added another in stoppage time to wrap up the surprisingly heavy victory against an opponent that had won seven of its previous nine games.

There was a composed league debut for 20-year-old right back Conor Bradley, a brilliant display by Ibrahima Konate at center back and even the sight of Joe Gomez — covering at right and left back for injured Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson — showing attacking endeavor to set up Núñez's second goal with a fine cross.

“It’s part of the job," Jota said of Liverpool's absentees. "We have a few injuries, players on international duty. We survived December. January is coming thick and fast and I think we have the players and the quality to keep winning games.

“When we have world-class players, it is easier with them. But we are Liverpool, we have good players and we can try and replace them and share the cost of the games between us and keep going.”

Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are close to being back, according to Klopp, while Salah's return from the Africa Cup depends how long Egypt stay alive in the competition. An injury he sustained in a group match this week doesn't appear too serious, so Liverpool might be back to close to full strength soon.

City looks to have a serious challenger for its league title this season.

LATEST GOAL

The Premier League has never had a goal scored later than the penalty converted by Sheffield United's Oli McBurnie in the 13th minute of stoppage time in the team's 2-2 draw with West Ham.

The competition's latest goal on record was previously a penalty, too, scored by Dirk Kuyt for Liverpool against Arsenal in 2011. That was timed at 101 minutes and 48 seconds, and McBurnie's was scored 19 seconds later.

It capped a wild period of added-on time that also included red cards for Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United and Vladimir Coufal of West Ham. But the biggest drama arrived when West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola came out to punch clear a cross, only to make contact with McBurnie.

Areola wasn't allowed to be in goal for the penalty because he needed to come off after receiving treatment after the foul. Lukasz Fabianski entered as a replacement and his first task was to retrieve the ball from the net after being beaten by McBurnie's low penalty.

West Ham twice went ahead at Bramall Lane, first through Maxwel Cornet in the 28th and then James Ward-Prowse from the penalty spot in the 79th. Ben Brereton Diaz, on loan from Villarreal, scored Sheffield United's initial equalizer on his Premier League debut.

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer