Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scored either side of half-time to secure Liverpool a 2-0 win over Burnley in front of a full house at Anfield.
The Reds were handed a boost prior to Saturday’s clash, Jordan Henderson returning to Premier League action for the first time since February and Andy Robertson named on the bench following an ankle injury.
It was Robertson’s replacement, Konstantinos Tsimikas, who created the opener, finding Jota with a cross as the forward headed in his second goal in as many games at the start of the new season.
Both teams had strikes ruled out for offside, Mohamed Salah and Ashley Barnes the unfortunate pair, before Sadio Mane profited from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s curling pass to seal victory.
Burnley had started the brighter, offering the hosts a rude awakening with Alexander-Arnold forced into a goal-line clearance to block Dwight McNeil’s low effort – the offside flag belatedly appearing after the initial scare.
The hosts then opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Jota flicked past Nick Pope to record his first league goal at Anfield since November 2020.
Salah managed to curl past the Burnley goalkeeper to seemingly add a second, only for VAR to rule the Egypt forward offside after a smart offload from Harvey Elliott, making his first Premier League start for Liverpool.
James Tarkowski almost levelled on the stroke of half-time, rising above Alisson but heading narrowly wide as the goalkeeper failed to grasp Matthew Lowton’s deep set-piece delivery.
Burnley had a goal of their own disallowed after the break, Barnes whipping into the roof of the net before seeing the assistant correctly raise his flag.
Any concerns among the returning home crowd over the slender lead were extinguished when Mane made Liverpool’s second-half domination tell, smashing a low attempt into the net to cap superb build-up play by the hosts.
Alisson ensured a clean sheet with a brave save deep into added time, rushing out to deny Barnes from close range after the forward was rolled through by substitute Jay Rodriguez.
What does it mean? Liverpool’s Anfield opener domination continues
Given Sean Dyche’s side ended Klopp’s 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield last term, Jota’s opener was crucial to settle any nerves on Liverpool’s long-awaited return home.
The win extends their undefeated streak to 12 – including 10 wins – the longest ongoing run in the top flight, while Burnley have now lost five in a row in the competition for the first time.
The Reds have also lost just three of their last 56 top-flight openers in front of their own supporters, this result against Burnley representing their ninth consecutive win on such occasions.
After a somewhat lean campaign last term by his own high standards, Alexander-Arnold put in an imperious performance.
The right-back provided a wonderful delivery for Mane’s goal – his ninth assist for the Senegal forward in the competition – and that was just one of his game-high seven key passes.
The England international recorded a game-leading 101 touches and, since the start of the 2018-19 Premier League season, only Kevin De Bruyne (34) has provided more assists than Alexander-Arnold’s tally of 33.
Not so good for Gudmundsson
Johann Gudmundsson struggled all game to contain Tsimikas, who curled in delightfully for Jota’s goal, winning just 22.2 per cent of his nine duels before his late removal.
To make matters worse for the Iceland international, he gave away the most fouls in the game (four) and also completed just 14 passes across his 79-minute outing.
Key Opta facts
– Liverpool have won each of their past seven Premier League games, as many victories as they enjoyed in their previous 20 outings in the competition (D5 L8) and their longest winning streak in the league since a run of 18 ending in February 2020.
– Burnley have lost 11 of their 15 Premier League matches against Liverpool (W2 D2), more defeats than they have suffered against any other side in the competition (losing 10 against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City).
– At 18 years and 139 days, Harvey Elliott became the 10th youngest player to start a Premier League game for Liverpool and the youngest since Ben Woodburn in April 2017.
– Since his debut for Liverpool in September 2020, Diogo Jota has netted 15 goals in all competitions for the Reds, a figure only Mohamed Salah (29) can better, while the Portuguese has posted the best minutes per goal rate of any player for the club in that time (127).
– Virgil van Dijk made his 48th home Premier League appearance with Liverpool, losing none of those games (W43 D5); only Lee Sharpe played more home games for one club in the competition without losing any of them (59 with Manchester United).
– Sadio Mane became the fifth player to hit the 50-home goal milestone for Liverpool in the Premier League (Fowler 85, Gerrard 69, Owen 63, Salah 56).
Liverpool host reigning European champions Chelsea next Saturday. Burnley are also at home against Leeds United on Sunday, albeit after a midweek EFL Cup clash away at Newcastle United.
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