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Mohamed Salah Leads Dominant Liverpool Past Norwich in Premier League Opener

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores his side's second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City at Anfield on August 09, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Liverpool defeated Norwich City 4-1 at Anfield on Friday in the opening Premier League match of the season.

Norwich captain Grant Hanley turned the ball into his own net after just seven minutes from Divock Origi's cross. The visitors' defence could not cope, and Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 after 19 minutes.

Virgil van Dijk ensured it was three goals without reply after 27 minutes, even though Liverpool wasn't displaying balanced form across the pitch. Origi headed home four minutes before half-time, and Norwich's defensive naivety remained their undoing.

Teemu Pukki scored a consolation for Norwich after 64 minutes, slotting past substitute goalkeeper Adrian, who had replaced the injured Alisson Becker.

Norwich City's Scottish defender Grant Hanley (L) reacts after scoring an own goal as Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino celebrates the first goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

The Canaries suffered the worst possible start, falling behind after poor defending in the opening moments. Origi burst down the left channel, and his cross was turned in by Hanley. The Belgian's delivery should have been cleared, but the skipper prodded the ball past goalkeeper Tim Krul.

However, the visitors composed themselves after the shock of conceding and showed no fear as they chased an equaliser.

The Athletic UK's James Pearce criticised Jurgen Klopp's defenders:

James Pearce @JamesPearceLFC

Liverpool slack defensively so far - that's three times Norwich have got in behind them far too easily.

It did not take long before the Reds increased the daylight between themselves and their opponents, and Salah slotted home with ease. The Egypt international carried on where he left off last season, and Roberto Firmino was the provider for his striking partner.

Norwich remained full of energy and running, but the second strike was a bitter blow. They remained encouraged as the hosts appeared sluggish in defence. Marco Stiepermann's shot was saved by Alisson, and Klopp was out of his seat, directing his anger at his back four.

Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Despite the balance of play, Liverpool grabbed a third midway through the half when Van Dijk headed home from a corner. The Canaries had no answers in defence, and the Netherlands international was unchallenged in the box.

BT Sport presenter Gary Lineker quipped it could be Klopp's year in the Premier League:

Gary Lineker @GaryLineker

It’s Liverpool’s title now, surely?

Alisson hobbled off with a leg injury seven minutes before half-time, forcing Klopp to bring on recent signing Adrian. The former West Ham United goalkeeper joined the club on Monday after the sale of Simon Mignolet.

A miserable first half back in the top flight for Norwich was compounded four minutes before the interval as Origi made it 4-0 from Trent Alexander-Arnold's pinpoint cross.

Liverpool highlighted a unique achievement for the Belgian:

Liverpool FC @LFC

Origi has now netted on EVERY day of the week for the Reds ⚽️ Every day and I like the way you move... DIVOCK ORIGI! 🔴 https://t.co/Z2kGx1goRM

Football journalist Rahman Osman noted Liverpool's defence appeared fragile in the first half despite their goal rush:

Rahman osman @iamrahmanosman

As expected Liverpool make light work of Norwich but how the Canaries have been able to breach their defense with ease is a cause for concern adding to Allison’s injury. https://t.co/LxEneJaacN

Liverpool showed no mercy after the restart, and Jordan Henderson and Firmino both hit the woodwork within the first three minutes of the second half. Norwich could not cope with Liverpool's attacking prowess, and it could be a long season for the Premier League new boys if they fail to acclimatise.

The visitors continued their best to attack and were nearly rewarded on the hour mark when Moritz Leitner hit the bar. Seconds later, Norwich had their goal as Pukki expertly finished past Adrian.

Actor and Norwich fan Stephen Fry celebrated his team's goal:

Stephen Fry @stephenfry

Pukki Pukki Pukki! Be afraid, Liverpool, be ever so slightly afraid.… #LIVNOR

The strike underlined Liverpool's continuing defensive issues which manifested during pre-season. Van Dijk was vocal at the back, consistently shepherding his team-mates.

However, it was all too easy ahead of the final whistle. Sadio Mane was given a brief run-out from the bench by his manager, and Liverpool made a winning start to their campaign. Norwich kept attacking until the final stages, but their midfield and defence will need a rethink after a difficult baptism in the Premier League.