Liverpool continued their 100% winning start to the Premier League season with a 2-0 win over Burnley at Anfield.
Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scored the goals in front of full Anfield house as the Reds, after a slow start, deservedly swept to victory against Sean Dyche’s visitors.
Burnley, who were undefeated away to Liverpool for two seasons, started well and they tested Alisson early when Dwight McNeil — comfortably their best player on the day — let rip with a strong shot at the near post. The winger was the away team’s out ball, and he appealed for a penalty after tumbling in the box.
Trent Alexander Arnold clearly won the ball, however, and the Reds quickly launched a counter-attack with Burnley still needlessly remonstrating with the official. The ball was worked to the impressive Kostas Tsimikas on the left-flank and the Greek beautifully picked out Jota with a cross. The Portuguese’s movement flummoxed James Tarkowski and he met the ball with a glancing header that beat Nick Pope to give the hosts the lead.
Harvey Elliott was given his first-ever Premier League start and the teenager impressed throughout with his determination and skilful use of the ball, combining well with the similarly impressive Naby Keita. The former Fulham playmaker thought he registered his first assist when he intricately slid Mohamed Salah through on goal, with the Egyptian finishing coolly. Salah stayed offside, however, and the score remained 1-0 at halftime.
Burnley started the second half well and they had a goal rightly chalked off for offside right at the beginning of the second period via Ashley Barnes. The incident acted as a catalyst for the Reds and upped their intensity from that point and began to blow the visitors away.
Only a goal-line clearance from Tarkowski denied Salah a goal, while Mane and Alexander Arnold also forced saves from Pope as Dyche’s men were totally hemmed in by the hosts’ press and were trapped deep in their own half. The pressure was relentless and it eventually paid dividends when Mane — after a beautifully constructed move — sealed the three points.
A typically searching cross-field pass from the impressive Virgil van Dijk found Elliott wide on the right flank. The teenagers’ first touch was beautiful and in the next motion, he found Alexander Arnold with an incisive, in field pass. The number 66 then clipped a sumptuous pass into the path of Mane — whose clever movement left him unmarked — and the Senegalese hammered past Pope for 2-0.
Liverpool kept probing for more goals, with the introductions of Thiago Alcantara — who played in front of a packed Anfield for the first time — and Roberto Firmino doing nothing to break their dominance. Tsimikas was also making his first start in front of a full home crowd and impressed throughout, defensively and offensively.
The opening to the game — where the Reds looked laborious at times — wouldn’t have impressed Jurgen Klopp, but otherwise, the hosts were full value for their three points and they go into next weekend’s key battle with Chelsea in fine fettle.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Keita, Elliott; Salah, Jota, Mane.
Replacements: Thiago for Keita, Firmino for Jota, Joe Gomez for Tsimikas.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Adrian, Konate, Robertson Jones, Minamino