Sizzling start as Liverpool hit four


Report and highlights as Manuel Pellegrini suffers opening defeat

By Stephen Mills

Last Updated: 12/08/18 3:36pm

Liverpool 4-0 West Ham

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Liverpool started the season in style on Super Sunday as they condemned West Ham to a 4-0 defeat in Manuel Pellegrini’s first game in charge.

Mohamed Salah (19) and Sadio Mane (45+2) scored open goals after ruthless attacking moves during a rampant first half at Anfield and the home side added a third eight minutes after half-time when Mane stroked home, controversially from an offside position.

Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to score with his first touch of the game (88) to complete a miserable afternoon for Pellegrini, who started five new signings but had goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski to thank for ensuring the scoreline was not even more comprehensive.

Liverpool dominated both the chances and the possession as they overwhelmed West Ham in the first half and took a deserved lead through Salah on 19 minutes.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Van Dijk (7), Gomez (7), Robertson (8), Keita (9), Milner (9), Wijnaldum (7), Mane (8), Salah (8), Firmino (8)

Subs: Henderson (6), Shaqiri (6), Sturridge (7)

West Ham: Fabianski (7), Fredericks (6), Balbuena (6), Rice (5), Ogbonna (6), Masuaku (6), Noble (5), Wilshere (6), Anderson (7), Arnautovic (7), Antonio (6)

Subs: Snodgrass (6), Hernandez (6), Yarmolenko (6)

Man of the match: James Milner

Impressive debutant Naby Keita carried the ball into the final third and slipped in Andrew Robertson to cross low for Salah to tap in to an empty net.

The Egyptian, who finished last season with 44 goals, was denied three times by Fabianski before Liverpool’s second arrived. West Ham’s goalkeeper held a header, then brilliantly denied Salah inside the six-yard box before rushing off a line to prevent another chance.

But West Ham’s high defensive line was punished again in first-half injury time when Robertson’s cross was volleyed back into the middle by James Milner and Mane hooked in to an unguarded goal to double Liverpool’s lead.

New goalkeeper Alisson and midfielder Naby Keita started for Liverpool while Fabinho was on the bench. West Ham included five debutants: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Fabian Balbuena, Jack Wilshere and Felipe Anderson.

Roberto Firmino was the architect of Liverpool’s third in the 53rd minute, cleverly feeding the ball through to Mane just inside the area to control and shoot low past Fabianski – though replays showed he was a yard offside.

Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring Liverpool's third goal Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring Liverpool's third goal

Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring Liverpool’s third goal

So comfortable was the victory, Jurgen Klopp was able to withdraw all three of his forwards – Firmino, Mane and Salah – during the second half and the final substitution immediately led to Liverpool’s fourth.

Sturridge, on his return to Anfield after spending time on loan at West Brom, met Milner’s corner at the back post and turned the ball in to complete a dream start for last season’s Champions League finalists and enhance expectations of a title push this time around.

What’s next?

Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace on August 20 for the first Monday Night Football of the new season, while West Ham host Bournemouth at the London Stadium next Saturday afternoon.

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