Liverpool came out of the blocks firing, dismissing Norwich City 3-0 at Carrow Road Stadium to kick the Premier League season off with a win. Goals from Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino off the bench and Mohamed Salah—who also assisted the first two strikes—reintroduced a bright and hopeful Canaries to the harsh reality of the top flight.
Norwich City had been seeking to join the other two newly-promoted sides in securing shock opening day victories but instead succumbed to their torrid history in this particular fixture, having failed win any of their last 15 matchups against the Reds, a period spanning 27 years.
Jürgen Klopp’s side took their time working their way into proceedings today, however, weathering some solid passages of play from their hosts before a rapid Liverpool attack resulting in Jota’s 26th minute opener stunned the crowd into resigned silence. The Reds then proceeded to dismantle the Canaries in the second half in decisive fashion.
The Liverpool manager commended his side for withstanding the early pressure, lauding the influence that the return of crowds to stadiums had on both sides:
“The boys are fit but you have to get used to the feeling again,” Klopp said to Sky Sports following the match.
“It’s really exhausting but you can [still] go. You have to get over that point in the game, and we did, and hopefully next week we’ll be fresher for longer.”
“It’s great to see the fans back and I hope that Norwich celebrated as well because they had an exceptional season. Their preseason has not been easy [due to Covid-19 protocols], and facing us is not too easy, but we were really professional,” he said.
“We were not here to show the most exciting football, just to get the basis for the new season, and we did.
“Football is back.”
The big story on the day was the shock return to the XI for Virgil Van Dijk, his first start in a competitive match since his injury in the Merseyside derby last October. While the big Dutchman had excelled under a carefully increasing workload in preseason, many had assumed he would be eased back into the starting lineup. The 30-year-old looked no worse for wear, playing the full 90 minutes and marshaling Teemu Pukki and the Norwich attack with relative ease.
It’s amazing,” the defender commented regarding his return to competitive action.
“It was a tough game. In the end 3-0 sounds comfortable but at times, especially at the end, we were making it difficult for ourselves. Maybe that’s fatigue, maybe we can do better - we’ll have a look at it.
“But to be back out there helping the boys... I just hope to continue that and see what it brings. I need games but the manager knows it, I know it. It’s a good start and now we have time to recover for next week
The Reds will next be in action a week from today as they welcome Burnley to Anfield for their second league fixture.