Liverpool extended their perfect start to the Premier League season by defeating Burnley 2-0 on Saturday, celebrating the return of a packed house at Anfield. Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scored the goals.
After a bright Burnley start, Jota’s header opened the score against the flow of play, and Mane made Liverpool’s dominance after the break count 21 minutes from time to put Jurgen Klopp’s side top of the table with six points from two games.
An emotional pre-match homage was made to former players who passed away during the preceding 17 months, as well as Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster, who died in July, in front of the first capacity crowd since March 2020.
On their last visit to Anfield in January, Burnley halted Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, resulting in a club record six consecutive home defeats for the Reds.
The Clarets were also the only away team to earn a point at Anfield the previous season, when Liverpool won the Premier League for the first time in 30 years.
Sean Dyche’s side gave up an early lead to lose 2-1 at home to Brighton in their first game of the season, adding to concerns about their future in the Premier League following a summer of scant investment from the club’s new American owners.
The return of full stands cheering on the hosts in the opening moments, however, had no effect on the visitors.
Dwight McNeil hit the post, and Alisson Becker had no choice but to push away Ashley Barnes’ near-post header.
However, Dyche will be furious with the way his side conceded on 18 minutes, when Kostas Tsimikas was given too much time to measure a superb cross and Jota raced across Ben Mee to flick a header into the far corner.
Only a VAR review prevented Mohamed Salah from extending Liverpool’s advantage after the Egyptian had just strayed offside before smashing home Harvey Elliott’s assist.
Mane was the next to threaten, firing a teasing through ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold narrowly over the bar.
Last season, Liverpool’s championship defence was derailed by a succession of injuries to centre-backs, the most notable of which being Virgil van Dijk’s.
Last Saturday, the Dutchman celebrated his return from a long-term knee injury by keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Norwich.
When put under pressure, however, Van Dijk and his teammates in the back appeared unsteady.
After beating Alisson to a free-kick fired into the box right before the break, James Tarkowski’s header went just wide.
Burnley had the ball in the net early in the second half, only for the offside flag to go against them when Barnes shot high past Alisson.
Liverpool quickly seized control of the game and should have won even more comfortably.
Mane’s poor form was another factor in Liverpool’s disappointing third-place finish last season.
The Senegalese had missed two good chances to score his first goal of the season before thumping home Alexander-superbly Arnold’s measured through ball to secure the three points.
When Mane failed to connect with Salah’s low cross, he should have had another chance.
But, as he rushed off his line to deny Barnes in a one-on-one deep into stoppage time, Alisson had to be at his best to keep another clean sheet.