Ruthless Liverpool gave Norwich a rude welcome back to the Premier League as they inflicted a 4-1 rout at Anfield on Friday night, but there was a worrying sight for Jurgen Klopp as goalkeeper Alisson hobbled off before half-time.
Norwich, back in the top flight after a three-year absence, gifted the European champions a seventh-minute lead via Grant Hanley’s own goal and quickly crumbled as Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Divock Origi added to the score before half-time.
The Canaries looked much better in the second half as Teemu Pukki pulled a goal back but there was nothing they could do to prevent a 10th straight Premier League win for the hosts.
However, what could have been the perfect start to what Liverpool hope will be another title challenge had the sheen taken off by Alisson’s injury as the Brazilian went down clutching his calf after slipping while playing a goal kick.
Klopp stuck with the starting line-up that lost last week’s Community Shield to Manchester City on penalties, with Sadio Mane making the bench.
It was the man starting in his place, Origi, who created the opening goal when his low cross into the area was horribly sliced by Canaries captain Hanley and span into the far corner of the net.
The Anfield crowd, already noisily reliving their Champions League success from June, turned up the volume and Liverpool responded, looking irresistible going forward.
Moments after Andy Robertson fired narrowly wide from Origi’s pull-back, Salah made it 2-0 in the 19th minute.
A ricochet fell kindly for Roberto Firmino to slip the ball into his path and the Egyptian made the task of placing the ball in the far corner look all too easy.
Marco Stiepermann, one of Klopp’s former charges at Borussia Dortmund, had skied two early chances for Norwich but when he did finally keep one down in the 26th minute his powerful shot, straight down the middle, was met by a camera-friendly save from Alisson.
Moments later, it was 3-0 as Van Dijk met Salah’s corner with a powerful header, and Firmino was unlucky not to add to the score with a powerful volley on the turn, palmed away by Tim Krul.
But there was concern when an innocent-looking slip for Alisson led to the Brazilian leaving the pitch in obvious pain, and a 39th-minute debut for new reserve stopper Adrian just four days after he signed.
It did nothing to slow Liverpool on the night, however, as Origi added a fourth three minutes before the break, heading home a sumptuous cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
They were slowed at the start of the second half, however, when the restart was delayed due to a faulty radio for assistant referee Simon Bennett.
When play did resume, Liverpool picked up where they left off as Krul had to push Jordan Henderson’s shot onto the crossbar before Firmino, struggling to turn, dribbled a shot onto the outside of the post when Origi looked better-placed to finish.
Salah then bent a shot agonisingly wide while, at the other end, substitute Moritz Leitner hit the outside of the post shortly after replacing Stiepermann as some of Liverpool’s pre-season defensive concerns reappeared.
It was an encouraging sign for Norwich, and things soon got even better.
Adrian had not had a save to make since coming on but in the 64th minute he was picking the ball out of the net after Emiliano Buendia slipped in Pukki and he calmly slotted the ball home.
Norwich began to look more comfortable as Liverpool’s intensity levels dropped but there was no sign of Klopp declaring as he sent on Mane for the final 16 minutes of the night, while Alexander-Arnold brought a fine save out of Krul with a powerful free-kick five minutes from time.
Source: RTÉ Sport