Liverpool 4-1 Norwich City: Canaries pay for defensive mistakes in opening night Premier League pummelling
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ruthless Liverpool hammered Norwich City 4-1 in a painful return to the Premier League on Friday night at Anfield.
Daniel Farke's new boys carved out a number of decent chances but were punished for their defensive naivety on Merseyside against Jurgen Klopp's European Cup holders.
Captain Grant Hanley sliced Divock Origi's cross into his own net seven minutes in before Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Origi himself put the Reds well out of sight before the interval.
Teemu Pukki did get one back in the second half with a composed finish from Emi Buendia's perfect pass in a vastly improved offering from the Canaries following the early carnage.
Todd Cantwell's impressive pre-season displays earned him a league start at Anfield with Hanley partnering Ben Godfrey in central defence.
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Pukki dragged Joe Gomez out of position in the fifth minute but Marco Stipermann could only sky his left-footed first time effort into the Kop.
But City gifted the hosts an opener when Max Aarons was unable to halt Origi and Hanley horribly sliced his near post clearance past a startled Tim Krul.
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The Scottish international put his head in his hands as Anfield erupted but Norwich spurned another decent chance to test Alisson at the other end in the ninth minute, when Stiepermann's radar was again off from Pukki's set.
Jamal Lewis rolled in the Finnish striker in the 15th minute but last season's Championship top scorer dallied and the chance was gone.
The prolific forward was in again seconds later only to drag his shot wide on the angle. Andy Robertson hammered a rising shot over at the other end with no signs of the frenetic early pace abating.
City paid for such profligacy when Salah opened his account for the new campaign in the 19th minute with a cool sidefooted finish after Roberto Firmino had gathered three ricochets involving Cantwell, Lewis and Tom Trybull to roll in the frontman.
But credit to Farke's troops they responded with another couple of threatening raids that prompted Klopp to lambast his players from the front of his technical area.
First Lewis, Cantwell and finally Aarons teed up Buendia, who scuffed his shot at Alisson, before Stiepermann's fearsome half-volley was parried by the Brazilian.
Yet Norwich were undone again in the 28th minute when Lewis was easily shrugged aside by van Dijk to head home Salah's corner six yards out.
It took a flying parry from Krul to deny Firmino from making it four for the relentless Reds when he guessed right to tip over a volley. Trybull's glancing header slipped wide of Alisson's far post in the 36th minute in a brief respite from the home onslaught.
Liverpool's number one was forced to depart in the aftermath when he stayed down clutching his right calf after a clearing kick. Former West Ham keeper Adrian replaced him.
It made no difference at the other end and Origi added a fourth before half-time with a dart inside Aarons to glance home Trent Alexander-Arnold's drilled cross over the top of Hanley.
Farke opted not to make changes at the break but there was a lengthy delay to the restart with the officials appearing to have issues with their audio equipment.
Krul denied Henderson when the game got underway with a superb tip onto his bar to foil the England international from 16 yards.
Cantwell then advanced in the 52nd minute to the edge of the Liverpool penalty area with Buendia prominent but his swinging shot drifted over.
But the confident youngster was robbed outside his own box shortly after only for Salah to curl his effort wide.
Farke had seen enough before the hour mark and introduced Moritz Leitner for Stiepermann, but the midfielder's first contribution was the first booking of the game for a trip on Henderson.
But Leitner moved centre stage in the 62nd minute to gather Cantwell's slip pass and smack a rising shot on he angle that thudded against the top of Adrian's bar.
City finally pierced the Liverpool rearguard in the 64th minute when Pukki timed his run to gather Buendia's pass and roll the ball past Adrian.
Ben Godfrey was out sharply to deflect Firmino's shot behind as Klopp's side looked to respond. Liverpool may have lost that fearsome attacking edge since the interval but there was no doubt City had also shed the inferiority complex.
Leitner picked out Hernandez in acres of space but Adrian had his angles right to drop on the low shot. Buendia then tried to whip a free kick over the wall which went straight to the Spanish keeper.
Hanley upended Firmino a yard outside the area in the 84th minute but Krul denied Alexander-Arnold with another fine stop.
But it was City who pressed again in stoppage time with Adrian foiling Godfrey with a low effort from 20 yards.
- Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson (Adrian 39), Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Henderson (C), Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Origi (Mane 74), Firmino (Milner 86), Salah. Subs (not used): Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Matip.
- Goals: Hanley og (7), Salah (19), van Dijk (28), Origi (42)
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Hanley (C), Lewis, Trybull (Hernandez 70), McLean, Cantwell, Stiepermann (Leitner 58), Buendia, Pukki (Drmic 83). Subs (not used): Fahrmann, Byram, Roberts, Vrancic.
- Bookings: Leitner (foul on Henderson, 60); Buendia (foul on Origi, 65)
- Goal: Pukki (64)
- Added on time: 3 minutes / 2 minutes
- Referee: Michael Oliver
- Attendance: 53,333