CALLUM Wilson’s opener proved not enough as plucky Cherries were beaten 2-1 by runaway league leaders Liverpool at Anfield.

The England frontman had put Eddie Howe’s men into the lead on nine minutes before goals from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane sealed the spoils for the European champions.

Defeat left Cherries in the bottom three of the Premier League, with 27 points from 29 games.

The Dorset club’s injury issues also worsened as Steve Cook was forced off after 19 minutes.

Cherries made one enforced change to the starting XI which was held to a 2-2 home draw against Chelsea last time out.

Joshua King was once again ruled out with a hamstring problem, meaning Junior Stanislas came in for his first league start since December.

Simon Francis and the ineligible Harry Wilson were not named among the substitutes, meaning Jack Simpson, Sam Surridge and Andrew Surman returned to the bench.

Liverpool, who had won all 14 of their top-flight home games ahead of kick-off, made six changes.

The hosts were without regular goalkeeper Alisson, skipper Jordan Henderson and full-back Andy Robertson.

Despite the Reds seeing the vast majority of the ball in the opening exchanges, it was Cherries who took a surprise early lead on nine minutes.

Callum Wilson ran on to Ryan Fraser’s searching ball to spark a counter, with the home fans calling for a foul on Joe Gomez by the striker.

Referee Paul Tierney allowed play to continue however, as the Coventry-born frontman found Philip Billing.

The Dane’s sublime reverse pass allowed Jefferson Lerma to cross for the Callum Wilson to slot home.

And just five minutes later, Eddie Howe’s men could have had a second. Fraser’s corner found the head of Nathan Ake, who forced Adrian in the home goal to tip onto the bar.

Back came Liverpool in search of a leveller. Brazilian Roberto Firmino burst in behind Steve Cook and forced a sharp reaction save from Cherries stopper Aaron Ramsdale.

That was also to be Cook’s last action of the afternoon as he hobbled off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem. Jack Simpson came on in his place.

It was Simpson who was the culprit for Liverpool drawing level with 25 minutes on the clock.

He gifted possession to Mane. The Senegalese star squared for Salah, whose low effort squirmed inside the post past Ramsdale for 1-1.

It was the Egyptian’s eighth goal in six games against Cherries and kept up his impeccable record of scoring in every game against the Dorset club.

Mane then got himself on the scoresheet in the simplest of fashion to put Jurgen Klopp’s side ahead.

Virgil Van Dijk’s through ball allowed the forward to run in behind and place the ball into the far corner on 33 minutes for his 18th goal of the campaign.

Cherries continued to show their threat on the counter, however. After breaking down the left, Stanislas stung the palms of Adrian with a fizzing low drive.

Simpson was left to survive another anxious moment as the Kop appealed for handball in the box against the Cherries’ academy graduate early in the second half. Referee Tierney waved play on.

Cherries came agonisingly close to finding a leveller on the hour mark.

Billing’s neat pass found Fraser, who lofted the ball over Adrian before James Milner threw himself to clear off the line.

Howe then looked to the bench in a bid to get his side back in the contest. Former Liverpool man Dominic Solanke was introduced in place of Stanislas.

A moment of magic from Roberto Firmino then almost wrapped up the contest for Liverpool with 73 minutes gone.

His sublime touch sent Adam Smith the wrong way before delivering a fizzed ball which just evaded Mane.

Former Southampton star Mane then saw his curling effort from range rattle with woodwork with just more than 15 minutes remaining.

But it was Callum Wilson at the other end who should have earned his side a point.

After Lewis Cook’s precise through ball found Ake, and despite a flag for a tight offside call, the Dutchman squared for the striker, who trod on the ball and failed to score when it would have been simpler to put it into an empty net.

Cherries: Ramsdale; Stacey, S Cook (Simpson, 19), Ake, Smith; Billing, Lerma (Gosling, 80), L Cook; Stanislas (Solanke, 68), Fraser, C Wilson.

Unused subs: Rico, Surman, Surridge, Boruc (g/k).

Booked: C Wilson

Liverpool: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomes, van Dijk, Milner; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana, 84); Mane, Firmino (Origi, 90+2), Salah.

Unused subs: Matip, Williams, Keita, Minamino, Lonergan (g/k).

Booked: None.

Referee: Paul Tierney.