EPL

Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool: Salah continued opening weekend streak as Reds cruise

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Liverpool got their Premier League title bid off to an untroubled start with a 3-0 win at newly promoted Norwich City.

Diogo Jota opened the scoring in the 26th minute, having been selected to start alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane up front.

Roberto Firmino, recently back in training following Brazil's run to the Copa America final, replaced Jota with an hour played at Carrow Road and swiftly got on the scoresheet.

Salah claimed both assists – the second seemingly far more intentional than the first – and duly got in on the act, finishing emphatically with 16 minutes remaining and becoming the first player to score on five consecutive Premier League opening weekends.

Tim Krul extended himself to tip over an 11th-minute header from Portugal forward Jota before his opposite number was given some work.

Teemu Pukki got in behind the returning Virgil van Dijk on the end of Todd Cantwell's dinked throughball and Alisson had to save sharply at his near post in the 19th minute.

A pleasing back and forth had developed as Salah crashed a volley just wide from Mane's chipped delivery and it was Liverpool who found the breakthrough when the Egypt star failed to control Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross, with the ball falling kindly for Jota to slot home.

Salah made a truer contact on the volley when a left-wing corner was partially cleared, with his strike blocked by Ben Gibson before Pierre Lees-Melou got in the way of Joel Matip's follow-up.

Last-ditch Norwich defending continued early in the second half as Max Aarons and Grant Hanley combined to thwart Mane.

Konstantinos Tsimikas, playing at left-back for Liverpool in the absence of Andy Robertson, stung Krul's palms after the hour and the second goal inevitably arrived when Salah retrieved another blocked Mane effort and cut the ball into Firmino's path for a simple finish.

The goal Salah's endeavours deserved arrived when he snaffled a Gibson clearance and curled impeccably beyond Krul.

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    On the face of it, that may have seemed an unexpected response to a crushing win with a clean sheet, but Klopp was right to point to Liverpool offering up golden chances to their Anfield visitors.

    Goalkeeper Alisson saved well from Armando Broja and Adam Armstrong, and Liverpool were arguably flattered by their victory margin as they reached 39 goals from their opening 13 games of the Premier League campaign.

    In terms of expected goals, the metric that assesses the quality of a team's chances, Liverpool finished the game with an advantage of 2.67 to Southampton's 1.34. Those numbers indicate Liverpool impressively over-performed in terms of capitalising on opportunities, while Southampton should have done better.

    Liverpool have only conceded a higher expected goals against (xGA) figure in three Premier League games this season, against the unlikely trio of Manchester United (1.49), Norwich City (1.61) and Brentford (2.72). They beat United 5-0 and Norwich 3-0, and drew 3-3 in a thriller at Brentford.

    "I was not happy with the chances we conceded today, to be honest," said Klopp in his post-game news conference.

    "I have no problem that Ali has to make saves in a football game but these saves were too spectacular. One-on-one with the goalie should not happen twice in a game, for sure not.

    "We have to really work on that. We have to be as stable, serious, ruthless defensively as somehow possible. That gives us then the platform to play football and then we can create and then we can score.

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    Liverpool have now scored two or more goals in 17 consecutive games across all competitions, making them only the second ever English top-flight club to achieve this feat after Sunderland in 1927 (17).

    They could set an outright record on Wednesday in the derby against former Reds boss Rafael Benitez's Everton team.

    There was plenty for Klopp to enjoy, and he hailed Diogo Jota as "a perfect signing" after the Portuguese forward, acquired from Wolves in September 2020, snatched two close-range goals early in the game to put the hosts in charge.

    "A good subject to talk about," Klopp said. "Diogo: exceptional player, exceptional boy. It was for us two years ago, one-and-a-half years ago, a perfect signing because he has everything that a Liverpool player in this squad needs.

    "He has the technical skills, he has the physical skills and he is very smart and can learn all the tactical stuff pretty quick. On top of that, he can play all three positions; in a 4-2-3-1 he could play as the 10. So, it is very helpful.

    "He has the speed, has the desire to finish situations off really good. I think his goalscoring record is pretty impressive, if I'm right. Unfortunately, he had a big injury last year and that is then never helpful. But he is back, thank God, and fits really well in this team. I'm really happy for him."

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    Asked whether it was known yet whether they would be available to face the current leaders, Klopp said: "Not really, it's early for that, we're still talking. Yes [we are hoping]."

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    Reigning champions Bayern had 11 attempts in the first half, six of those on target, without finding a way past inspired Arminia goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.

    The visiting keeper did well to keep out a couple of Alphonso Davies efforts and a volley from Thomas Muller, who earlier had a header cleared off the line by Andres Andrade.

    Sane continued Bayern's wastefulness by missing two big chances early in the second half, but the Germany international eventually provided the opener.

    Collecting a pass from Muller outside the box, Sane whipped a shot past Ortega to give Bayern the goal they craved.

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