Report as Reds kick off their bid for a first Premier League title with comfortable victory
The European champions, Liverpool raised the curtain on the new Premier League season with a 4-1 thrashing of newly-promoted Norwich at Anfield on Friday Night Football.
Liverpool, who missed out on the title last season by a single point, rarely got out of second gear, racing into a four-goal lead at the break courtesy of strikes from Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Divock Origi and a Grant Hanley own goal.
Norwich offered little resistance on a sobering return to the top-flight for Daniel Farke’s side, but Teemu Pukki gave the travelling fans something to cheer with a consolation on 64 minutes, while the Canaries’ second-half shut out offers hope ahead of the campaign.
Liverpool lost goalkeeper Alisson Becker to a calf injury just before half-time, the only negative for Jurgen Klopp to contend with on a night when VAR made its seamless top-flight debut and the Reds issued an early statement of intent at the start of their bid for a first league title in 30 years.
Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (6), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (6), Henderson (7), Fabinho (6), Wijnaldum (6), Salah (8), Firmino (7), Origi (7).
Subs: Adrian (6), Mane (5), Milner (n/a)
Norwich: Krul (6), Aarons (6), Hanley (4), Godfrey (4), Lewis (5), McLean (5), Trybull (5), Buendia (6), Stiepermann (6), Cantwell (5), Pukki (6).
Subs: Leitner (6), Hernandez (5), Drmic (n/a)
Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah.
It took just seven minutes for Liverpool to open their account. Origi, the hero from the Reds’ Champions League triumph in Madrid, was the creator as his cross from the left cannoned in off the unfortunate Hanley, who got his legs in a tangle.
At one end, Liverpool were imperious, but at the other they conceded chances to the newly-promoted Canaries all too easily. Marco Stiepermann blazed over from Pukki’s cutback on 10 minutes before the Finn – last season’s top scorer in the Championship – drew Alisson into a save and flashed a rebound across goal.
But Liverpool were soon back on top. After Andrew Robertson flashed a shot wide of the angle of post and bar, Salah got off the mark to double their advantage on 19 minutes.
Roberto Firmino pounced as the ball broke loose in the Norwich area, slotted Salah through on goal and the Egyptian slotted his first of the season under Tim Krul.
A solid save from Alisson prevented Stiepermann from pulling one back for Norwich at the end of an incisive attacking move, but the Canaries undermined their cause further with some woeful set piece defending as Van Dijk headed Liverpool’s third from a corner without jumping off the ground.
Liverpool lost Alisson to injury after he slipped while taking a goal kick as half-time approached, handing summer signing Adrian an early taste of first-team action. And the Spaniard had his first goal to celebrate not long after as Origi got in on the act, heading Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross beyond Krul.
Liverpool pushed for a fifth early in the second half. Jordan Henderson saw a shot brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Krul on 47 minutes before Salah curled a shot inches wide of the far post.
Substitute Moritz Leitner responded for Norwich, striking the angle of post and bar just after the hour before Pukki introduced himself to the Premier League with a composed finish after receiving Emiliano Buendia’s through ball in behind the Liverpool defence.
A stunning reflex save from Krul stopped Alexander-Arnold from adding a fifth with a late free-kick as Liverpool failed to find the target in the second period, though that will be of little concern after a comprehensive start to the season.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “It’s not good for us. We have to see how serious it is. It’s a calf, that’s it. He couldn’t carry on, that’s not a good sign. From all of my experience he will not play (the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea on Wednesday). He is injured, I cannot say how much until the scan, but he is injured.”
Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports: “The scoreline tells the story of the first 60 minutes. We were really sharp from the first whistle, we did what we wanted to do, we scored goals. There’s a lot of space for improvement but a lot of things were there today as well. We should have controlled the game more and kept the ball. It is normal when you’re not physically at your highest level and you lose a bit of your concentration. The boys were good, and we deserved the three points, which is the most important. I’m very happy with the start, but the Alisson situation is a shadow on that game.
‘Liverpool scored four first-half goals to begin their Premier League campaign in emphatic fashion against newly-promoted Norwich, but the game was not without its concerns for Jurgen Klopp. Not with so little margin for error in their title rivalry with Manchester City.’
Norwich City manager Daniel Farke told Sky Sports: “I love this team and the players and the character we showed today. We have to stick to our beliefs. I want us to be brave and go out and play like it’s playing football with mates. Of course, we have to be a bit more solid and concentrated in defence, but we have injured players coming back and it’s a few lessons to the lads on the pitch to learn as small details at this level can make a big difference.”
- Liverpool have scored 15 goals in their four opening day Premier League matches under manager Jürgen Klopp (W3 D1 L0), netting four times in their first match of the league season in consecutive seasons for the first time in their entire history.
- Norwich City have won their first match of the league season in just one of the last 17 seasons (W1 D8 L8).
- Mohamed Salah has scored in Liverpool’s first Premier League match in each of the last three seasons (2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20).
- The first goal of the Premier League season was an own-goal for only the second time – the other occasion was in 2015-16, when Kyle Walker’s own-goal was the only goal in Man Utd’s 1-0 win over Spurs.
Liverpool travel to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea on Wednesday (8pm BST) before travelling to Southampton on Saturday (3pm). Norwich, meanwhile, host Newcastle in their first home game back in the Premier League on Saturday (3pm)
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