Liverpool banish Burnley ghosts in ‘dream’ return to Anfield

Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool’s “dreams were fulfilled” as the Reds celebrated the return of a full house at Anfield by sweeping aside Burnley 2-0 on Saturday.

Goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane either side of half-time extended Liverpool’s 100 percent start to the season with six points from their opening two games.

In front of a first capacity crowd since March 2020, an emotional pre-match tribute was paid to former players who passed away over the past 17 months as well as Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster, who died in July.

Liverpool ended a 30-year wait to win the title in the time while football was forced behind closed doors by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everybody was really looking forward to this football fest today and nobody leaves this place with any kind of disappointment,” said Klopp. “Our dreams were fulfilled atmosphere wise.”

Burnley ended Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield in the Premier League on their last visit in January, which gave way to a club record six straight home defeats for the Reds in a difficult season blighted by a series of injuries to key players.

Sean Dyche’s men are still without a point from their opening two games, compounding fears for their future in the top flight after a summer of little investment from the club’s new American owners.

“Football doesn’t judge you on whether your business is good,” said Dyche on his lack of signings. “It’s about getting players out there to win games so we’ve got to keep working hard to find that balance.”

The visitors were not shaken by the return of full stands in the opening stages as Dwight McNeil struck the post and Alisson Becker was forced to turn behind Ashley Barnes’s header at the near post.

But Dyche was frustrated at the manner in which his side conceded on 18 minutes as Kostas Tsimikas was given too much time to measure a perfect cross and Jota ran across Ben Mee to flick a header into the far corner.

Liverpool then began to find their rhythm as only a VAR review denied Mohamed Salah doubling the lead as the Egyptian had just strayed offside before blasting home Harvey Elliott’s pass.

The return of Virgil van Dijk from cruciate knee ligament damage has seen Liverpool keep two clean sheets to start the season, but they had to ride their luck at times.

James Tarkowski’s header dropped just wide after beating Alisson to a free-kick launched into the box just before the break.

Early in the second-half, Burnley did have the ball in the net only for the offside flag to this time go against them when Barnes slotted high past Alisson.

Liverpool soon regained the ascendency, though, and should have ran out even more comfortable winners.

Mane’s dip in form was another reason for the Reds’ struggles in finishing a distant third last season.

The Senegalese had passed up two big chances to net his first goal of the season before he made sure of the three points by slamming home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s perfectly measured through ball 21 minutes from time.

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