Norwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Virgil van Dijk made a winning return from injury as Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win at Norwich to open their Premier League season on Saturday.
Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were on target for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they made a promising start to their quest to take back the Premier League title from Manchester City.
Van Dijk’s cruciate knee ligament injury derailed the Reds’ title defence last season and the Dutchman looked like his old self as he played the full 90 minutes on his return to action.
Norwich stormed back to the top flight at the first time of asking by romping to the Championship title last season, but were given a stark reminder of the gulf they have to bridge to compete at the Premier League level.
Teemu Pukki briefly threatened to cause an upset as his powerful shot at the near post was turned behind by Alisson Becker with the best chance of the opening quarter.
But there was little doubt over the final outcome once Jota opened the scoring on 26 minutes.
Salah turned Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross into the Portuguese forward’s path and his shot should have been stopped by Tim Krul rather than trundling through the Dutch international’s legs.
Klopp left the majority of his stars that had played in international tournaments over the summer out as Firmino and Fabinho started on the bench, while there was no place in the squad for Jordan Henderson or Thiago Alcantara.
The Brazilian duo were introduced on the hour mark and it took Firmino just five minutes to make his mark thanks to Salah’s vision.
Salah squared to give his strike partner a simple finish.
Salah then scored in Liverpool’s opening league game of the season for the fifth straight season.
A corner fell his way on the edge of the box 16 minutes from time and the Egyptian fired powerfully past Krul into the top corner.
Liverpool needed some late heroics from Alisson to secure Van Dijk a clean sheet on his return as the Brazilian spread himself to block from Ben Gibson in a goalmouth scramble.
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