NORWICH (Reuters) -Liverpool eased into the new Premier League season as goals by Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah earned them a 3-0 victory at promoted Norwich City on Saturday.
With defensive linchpin Virgil van Dijk back after nine months out with a serious knee injury, Liverpool enjoyed a relatively trouble-free evening at Carrow Road.
Norwich had their chances but once Jota gave Liverpool the lead in the 26th minute the visitors were in command.
Salah set up Firmino to make it 2-0 in the 65th minute and then sealed the points nine minutes later with a neat finish.
The Egyptian striker has now scored on the opening weekend for the past five seasons -- a Premier League record.
But the focus was very much on Dutchman Van Dijk whose absence was a key factor in Liverpool’s disappointing defence of their Premier League title last season.
“It was a tough game for many reasons and 3-0 sounds comfortable,” Van Dijk, who signed a new contract with the Anfield club this week, told Sky Sports.
“It’s about getting into normal habits, shouting at your team mates, repetition. I’ve made great steps in pre-season and this was another big step today.”
With a capacity crowd cheering them on, Norwich matched Liverpool in the opening stages and could have gone ahead when Teemu Pukki got in behind Van Dijk but opted to try and beat Alisson at his near post and the Brazil goalkeeper made the save.
Minutes later Liverpool were ahead as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ball in from the right was mis-controlled by Salah and the ball ran to Jota who tucked a shot home.
There was an element of fortune about Liverpool’s second as a rebound off a Norwich defender fell to Salah whose instant cross was an open invitation for Firmino to score.
Norwich were deflated and they fell further behind when Salah curled in with his left foot after a corner fell to him on the edge of the area.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said it was job done on a great day for football with the return of capacity crowds.
“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 German said.
Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar
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