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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Liverpool’s first competitive game at a full Anfield for 528 days ends in victory against Burnley

Liverpool kicked off the second round of Premier League fixtures with a simple enough home win at a full Anfield.

It was the first competitive game at Anfield since that dreaded night which no fan wants to relive against Atletico Madrid.

Before the game began there was a loving tribute to Andrew Devine who was the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster as captain Jordan Henderson laid down a wreath in front of the Kop as the whole ground sung out justice for the 97.

After the poignancy of the start Liverpool kicked off and the opening 15 minutes was anything other than straightforward for them as it was a slow start from Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Neither side had a clear-cut chance in the first chapter of the game but Burnley’s key man Dwight McNeil was eager to make issues for Liverpool’s backline and it did not take too long before he did.

His cross into Chris Wood forced the first save from either goalkeeper as Alisson Becker parried it away easily enough.

The ball came back though as McNeil fell in the box after some contact with Alexander-Arnold however nothing was given.

Liverpool regained possession and went down the other end for their first attack.

It ended up with the ball in the back of the net for Liverpool’s first home goal of the campaign.

Naby Keita started the attack giving the ball to Tsimikas who whipped the ball in aggressively and found Diogo Jota in-between Burnley’s centre backs.

The Portuguese international had found space in a crowded box and glanced the ball effortlessly past a diving Nick Pope.

Jota’s first goal at a full Anfield, it was simplicity at its finest.

A goal you can watch over and over again and never get bored.

Burnley reacted well though as a couple of minutes after the goal another save was needed to be made from Alisson at his near post.

McNeil was at the heart of it yet again as he blasted the ball hoping it would go through the Brazilian but he stood tall and strong as he usually does.

The game had come to life after the dull start as from the resulting corner Liverpool counter attacked and this time forced Pope into his first save of the game.

Harvey Elliott played the ball just behind Salah, but he got his shot off on the edge of the box as Pope put it wide for a corner, there was a subsequent chance from the set piece as Van Dijk headed it over the bar.

Soon after it looked like Salah had doubled the lead for The Reds.

Elliott had the ball on the edge of the box and took his time to find a cute through ball to find Salah who slotted it past Pope first time.

At the time the referee, Mike Dean, didn’t disallow it nor did his linesman however VAR intervened, and Salah was slightly ahead of Burnley’s last man.

Liverpool had fully got into their rhythm now and around the half hour mark another opening was created superbly by Alexander-Arnold as he clipped a ball in behind for Sadio Mane who met it fiercely but it went over the bar as he met it with his shin.

The pressure was building but Burnley as they so often do cope with it throwing men on the line as Ben Mee headed away a curling effort from Salah.

In the last minute of the first half Burnley came ever so close as a long hopeful ball from a free kick in their own half was met by Tarkowski as Alisson attempted to come for it.

He got nowhere near it and the ball bounced wide of the empty net.

Alisson got away with one.

The second half began in similar fashion as the first from Liverpool’s perspective.

Slow.

This time it very nearly cost them as Burnley did have the ball in the back of the net inside the first minute.

Matt Lowton beat three Liverpool players too easily and got a cross into Ashley Barnes who prodded the ball home and celebrated in front of The Kop.

He was though a mile offside and got jeered by the crowd when the flag went up.

Klopp’s side quickly regained control of the game as it followed the similar pattern of the first half.

Liverpool came close again from a corner around 15 minutes later as Van Dijk was once again the threat.

The Dutchman swung his leg at the ball in from Alexander-Arnold and it took a deflection off Ben Mee and went the wrong side of the post.

Just like the first half Burnley were firmly on the backfoot for a good passage and it looked like the goal to double the lead would surely come.

On the hour mark McNeil found himself in areas he would not have liked to be as he had to block a shot on the line from Salah after Elliott found him with a lovely cross from the left-hand side.

The 18-year-old making his full Premier League debut looked fantastic in the midfield three and should have really had an assist if it wasn’t for Burnley’s heroic defending.

Then ten minutes later the Liverpool of two years ago entered the field.

Van Dijk pinged an outrageous ball to the right-hand side, Elliott chested it down delightfully and found Alexander-Arnold who deliciously clipped the ball into Mane who fired the ball past Pope.

This one stood and it was quite literally poetry in motion.

Van Dijk being the playmaker from the back was what Liverpool missed just as much as his defending, he showed with one pass just how much he brings to the team.

At that point with 20 minutes to go the game had already been won.

A third came close very shortly after as a free kick was swung in and Pope missed it completely with Barnes having to clear it off the line.

Clearing it off the line was a reoccurring theme for Burnley who got lucky on more than one occasion.

Salah, who was desperate for his customary goal, came close yet again trying an audacious curling effort but after that there was no real chances to scare Burnley too much.

With 15 minutes left Liverpool understandably took their foot off the gas.

Burnley forced a couple of saves from Alisson who kept his clean sheet in fine fashion rushing out in the last seconds to deny Barnes from slotting home.

It was a simple enough win for Liverpool as it was expected to be, but Burnley certainly also had positives to take.

They were a joy to watch at times, especially for the second goal.

Now for Liverpool there is the slightly bigger task of welcoming Chelsea to Anfield next weekend.

Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas (Gomez 90); Henderson, Keita (Thiago 81), Elliott; Mane, Jota (Firmino 81), SalahBurnley XI: Pope; Lowton, Mee, Tarkowski, Taylor; Gudmundsson (Pieters 79), Brownhill, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Wood (Rodriguez 75), Barnes

READ MORE: Liverpool season preview

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