Liverpool scored four first-half goals as they started the new Premier League season with a blistering performance to demolish newly-promoted Norwich City at Anfield.
Norwich captain Grant Hanley scored the opening goal of the top-flight season when he sliced Divock Origi’s cross into his own net before Mohamed Salah opened his account after a pass by Roberto Firmino.
German midfielder Marco Stipermann forced a fine save by Reds keeper Alisson before an unmarked Virgil van Dijk headed the third from Salah’s corner, Origi nodding the fourth after a stunning pass by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Teemu Pukki’s composed finish reduced the deficit after Liverpool lost Alisson to injury, the Brazil keeper replaced by new signing Adrian after slipping while taking a first-half goal-kick.
There was a carnival atmosphere at Anfield for Liverpool’s first home game since beating Tottenham in the Champions League final on 1 June and Jurgen Klopp’s side responded with a superb display.
They might have won by a more handsome margin as Tim Krul palmed Origi’s attempt onto the bar after making a brilliant save to keep out Firmino’s ferocious volley. Krul also did well to keep out Alexander-Arnold’s late free-kick.
No Reds hangover from last season’s failed title charge
Any fears Liverpool might be suffering a hangover after missing out to Manchester City by one point in the race for last season’s title were quickly dispelled as the Reds started their quest to win a first top-flight title in 30 years in style.
Supporters were looking for evidence Klopp’s team can go one step better than last season and, while bigger tests lie ahead, a thumping win against a team fresh out of the Championship is a decent start.
After a quiet summer in the transfer market, it was the same familiar faces on show including nine players who started the win over Spurs in Madrid in June.
Origi, who came off the bench to score in the Champions League final win, helped his side take the lead with a cross which ended in the back of the net after Hanley’s misfortune.
Salah doubled the lead with a trademark low angled finish after Firmino’s assist before Salah turned provider with the corner for Van Dijk to make it 3-0.
Liverpool were coasting and even after losing Alisson to injury they increased their advantage after Alexander-Arnold’s sublime pass allowed Origi to head the fourth goal.
On a night of positives for the home side, Joe Gomez came through his first league game of 2019 after recovering from a fractured leg.
Klopp keeping his fingers crossed about Alisson
Alisson was a key figure in Liverpool’s eye-catching 2018-19 season and Klopp will be hoping his number one keeper is not out for long.
After slipping in front of the Kop, he received treatment on the pitch before a stretcher was brought on.
The Brazilian eventually managed to get back to his feet and leave the field with help from a physio, but any prolonged absence would be a blow for Liverpool.
Former West Ham keeper Adrian, brought in to replace the departed Simon Mignolet earlier in the week, made one fine save from Moritz Leitner before being beaten by Pukki.
Tough lesson for Norwich
This was Norwich’s first Premier League game since losing 3-0 at Liverpool’s neighbours Everton in May 2016, having already been relegated. They fared no better on their return to Merseyside.
In truth, next week’s home game with Newcastle will provide a better gauge of how the Canaries will fare this season.
Despite the scoreline, Norwich caused Liverpool’s defence problems and Pukki’s lovely finish after Emiliano Buendia’s pass at least provoked some gallows humour from Norwich’s travelling fans.
“One-nil in the second half,” was the defiant song that rang out.
Norwich have been busy in the transfer market and although none of their new recruits started at Anfield, expect that to change when they return to Carrow Road next week.