Jota and Mané on target as Liverpool remember absent friends at Anfield
Liverpool remembered Ray Clemence, Ian St John, Gerard Houllier, Gerry Marsden and Andrew Devine before their first home game of the season.
Liverpool made it two wins from two at the start of the new Premier League season as they cruised to a 2-0 home victory over Burnley on Saturday. It was an emotional afternoon in L4 as Anfield was filled to capacity for the first time 17 months. Prior to kick-off, players and fans paid tribute to some of those with deep connections to the club who we lost during the pandemic - legendary players Ray Clemence and Ian St John, former manager Gérard Houllier, singer Gerry Marsden whose version of You'll Never Walk Alone became a Kop anthem and Andrew Devine, a supporter who recently lost his battle against the injuries he sustained in the Hillsborough disaster, becoming the 97th victim of the tragedy.
During the course of the pandemic, we were deeply saddened to lose much loved friends from our football family.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 21, 2021
You’ll Never Walk Alone ❤️ pic.twitter.com/fm5vBAY32Z
Jota opens the scoring
Diogo Jota edged the hosts ahead with his second goal in as many games in the 18th minute with a brilliant glanced header. Burnley, the team who last season ended Liverpool's 68-match unbeaten home league run, a record that stretched back almost four years, had chances to level, but their final ball was lacking at the crucial moment. Ashley Barnes thought he had levelled early in the second half, only to be denied by the offside flag, with Liverpool capitalising on their reprieve in the 69th minute, as Sadio Mané drilled home their second.
The hosts pressed for a third, urged on by a buoyant crowd, but they settled for two, and a second clean sheet of the campaign, to go top of the table, and leave Burnley pointless from their opening two matches.
With Anfield in fine voice, at capacity for the first time since Liverpool’s Champions League defeat to Atlético Madrid in March last year, the visitors looked like they might become the first Burnley team since 1897 to win back-to-back league games at the famous stadium after making a bright start. Firstly, Dwight McNeil was just offside when he was denied by the post, before Chris Wood was thwarted by a smart save from Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson. But, for the second time in as many games, Jota settled Liverpool nerves, scoring his first Anfield goal since November last year.
Salah strike ruled out by VAR
Burnley, who fielded a starting XI consisting only of players with numbers one to 11 on their backs – the first Premier League team since Charlton Athletic in 1998 to do so – remained undeterred, with McNeil again going close moments after Liverpool’s opener. Salah then thought he had his 99th Premier League career goal, only for VAR to rule it out for offside, with Barnes also seeing a fine finish cancelled early in the second half. Liverpool stepped it up another gear, with the pressure telling as Mané hammered home his first of the season after a flicked pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
While Chelsea and Manchester City have both been tipped to be eventual champions this season, very few have predicted Liverpool can go all the way and wrestle the title back from City. But this comfortable victory means Jürgen Klopp's side are unbeaten in 12 matches in the league – the longest run in the division. With Virgil van Dijk back in defence, they look a formidable unit once again.
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