Mohamed Salah scored one and provided two assists as Liverpool got their Premier League title bid off to a winning start with a comfortable victory at newly promoted Norwich City.
Salah got his side’s third to become the first player to score on the opening weekend in five consecutive Premier League campaigns and cap a fine display after earlier setting up Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.
The Reds were boosted before kick off by the return of talismanic defender Virgil van Dijk after 10 months out through injury and their day got even better when they took the lead midway through the first half.
Trent Alexander-Arnold found Salah inside the box and the Egypt forward’s touch fell into the path of Jota for the Portugal forward to finish clinically.
It was a little harsh on Norwich, who had made a spirited start to the game as they were roared on by a buoyant home crowd making the most of their return to Carrow Road and the top flight.
Teemu Pukki, who scored 11 goals in the Premier League two seasons ago, drew an early save out of Alisson after getting in behind the visitors’ defence.
But once Liverpool went in front they rarely looked in danger of letting their lead slip as Norwich struggled to rediscover their early rhythm.
Max Aarons cleared a goal-bound effort from Sadio Mane six minutes after the break but a second goal duly arrived shortly after the hour mark when substitute Firmino struck.
The Brazil forward had only been on the pitch for four minutes when he tapped in from close range after unselfish work from Salah, who opted to pass to his team-mate when he had the chance to shoot from a tighter angle.
Salah then wrapped up the perfect opening day for the Reds when he collected the ball after a corner had only been half cleared and curled a fine strike into the back of the net.
Liverpool boosted by defensive returns
Liverpool finished third in the Premier League last season, 17 points behind champions Manchester City after their campaign was derailed by a shocking slump as they struggled to cope with their defensive injuries.
But the signs are good that they will be well stocked in that area this campaign. Van Dijk made his first league appearance since October last year and he was joined in the centre of defence by Joel Matip, who is back after seven months out.
Joe Gomez, who was also missing for most of the second part of last season, and new signing Ibrahima Konate were on the bench at Norwich as suddenly Liverpool appear well stocked in an area that looked threadbare in the last campaign.
There were elements of rustiness to the play from Van Dijk and Matip, particularly early on as Norwich got in behind the visitors’ defence on a couple of occasions.
But they grew into the game and by the second half were repelling the Canaries’ attacks comfortably – although they did require a brilliant close-range stop from Alisson at the end to secure a clean sheet.
Bigger tests will come for the Reds this season but with the defence now having depth to it and three of their four attacking players scoring against Norwich, they look in good shape to make a more extended run at the title this term.
Groundhog day for Norwich
Norwich are back in the Premier League after one season in the Championship, which they comfortably won to return to the top flight.
Their last stint at this level saw them finish bottom of the table and be relegated with just 21 points, their season characterised by spells of good play in the majority of their games only to fail to capitalise on those.
Making the most of their return to Carrow Road and the Premier League, Norwich fans were in buoyant mood before kick off and those good vibes continued as the home side made a bright start.
They were the better side for the opening 25 minutes, attacking with pace and a directness that unsettled the returning Liverpool defence. But it soon became an all-too-familiar story as, despite their good play, they were unable to take advantage before their opponents went ahead.
From then on they were second best, improving slightly towards the end as Alisson denied Ben Gibson a consolation.
An opening-day defeat against Liverpool is not going to be a result that defines their season and historically they have struggled against the Reds, who have now won 13 of their last 15 encounters.
But with reigning champions Manchester City up next followed by games against Leicester City and Arsenal it is a reminder of just how tough life in the Premier League is.
- 14CantwellBooked at 53minsSubstituted forDowellat 86′minutes
- 22PukkiSubstituted forIdahat 77′minutes
- 17RashicaSubstituted forSargentat 77′minutes
- 4van Dijk
- 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forFabinhoat 61′minutes
- 7MilnerBooked at 25mins
- 8KeïtaSubstituted forElliottat 83′minutes
- 20JotaSubstituted forFirminoat 61′minutes
- Andre Marriner
Match ends, Norwich City 0, Liverpool 3.
Second Half ends, Norwich City 0, Liverpool 3.
Attempt missed. Lukas Rupp (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Kieran Dowell.
Attempt missed. Joshua Sargent (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Max Aarons.
Attempt missed. Max Aarons (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Kieran Dowell.
Attempt saved. Adam Idah (Norwich City) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Grant Hanley.
Attempt blocked. Grant Hanley (Norwich City) left footed shot from very close range is blocked.
Attempt saved. Ben Gibson (Norwich City) left footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pierre Lees-Melou with a cross.
Substitution, Norwich City. Kieran Dowell replaces Todd Cantwell.
Foul by Konstantinos Tsimikas (Liverpool).
Joshua Sargent (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Liverpool. Harvey Elliott replaces Naby Keïta.
Foul by Max Aarons (Norwich City).
Konstantinos Tsimikas (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Virgil van Dijk following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Billy Gilmour.
Substitution, Norwich City. Adam Idah replaces Teemu Pukki.
Substitution, Norwich City. Joshua Sargent replaces Milot Rashica.
Lukas Rupp (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).
- Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever before – here’s everything you need to know to make sure you never miss a moment