Liverpool’s 100% start to the 2018/19 season continued at Anfield with a comfortable win over Southampton.
An early Wesley Hoedt own goal was followed in by goals from Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah, a first-half demolition securing three more points for the Reds.
There was a sense of intrigue on L4 as manager Jurgen Klopp handed Xherdan Shaqiri a first competitive start, accompanied by Georginio Wijnaldum and skipper Jordan Henderson in midfield.
Elsewhere, Joe Gomez was rested for Joel Matip, a move that proved to be influential in Liverpool’s early efforts.
Matip and Shaqiri both looked to grasp their rare opportunity and played a part in the opening goal, Matip’s driving run leading to a corner from which the Reds would profit.
As the ball broke out, Mane slipped Shaqiri back in down the left, the Swiss coming onto his right foot before seeing his cross comically bounce off Hoedt and into the net.
It was nearly two through Salah, coming onto a beautiful one-two with Firmino in the area, only for Cedric Soared’ perfectly timed tackle to prevent him.
That wasn’t of concern for Liverpool though, with Matip’s emphatic header from the resulting corner helping him to his first goal at Anfield.
Liverpool were running away with the game at that point and, with no Southampton attacks looking profitable, a third goal seemed inevitable before the break.
Shaqiri had played his part in the first goal and was enjoying a bright game, leaving him confident to bend a 30-yard free-kick towards goal in the closing minutes of the half. Alex McCarthy was left stranded as the ball clattered down from the bar, Salah on hand to convert.
Although the visitors had created sporadically in the opening half, they had enjoyed more space in midfield than Jurgen Klopp would have been pleased with, leading to a Shaqiri being replaced by James Milner at the interval.
That helped Liverpool in shutting the game down, Southampton wouldn’t have w shot on target until Alisson beat away Charlie Austin’s 90th-minute effort.
The biggest second-half drama came in the form of an injury scare as Virgil van Dijk was forced off holding his ribs, Joe Gomez coming on to help secure the clean sheet.
Liverpool occasionally threatened to add to their lead, Salah seeing a goal ruled out for offside as he latched onto a blocked Milner effort the closest they came.
The hard work had been done early on though, Klopp’s men securing the overnight lead in the table before Chelsea face West Ham on Sunday.