(Reuters) – Last season’s Premier League top scorer Mo Salah was on target again as Liverpool began their campaign with an easy win at home to West Ham United.
The Egyptian gave Juergen Klopp’s side the lead after 19 minutes from Andy Robertson’s precise low cross.
West Ham’s new manager Manuel Pellegrini gave debuts to five of their 10 close-season signings, but his revamped team rarely threatened Liverpool’s expensive new Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson.
Poor defending cost them a second goal just before the interval, to Sadio Mane, who added a third after 53 minutes from an offside position.
Substitute Daniel Sturridge made it four just seconds after coming on.
“We played as good as possible today and we extended a really good pre-season into the Premier League,” Klopp told the BBC.
“It was better than I could have expected. The performance of all the boys and the midfield of James [Milner] and Georginio Wijnaldum was outstanding.
“It’s only the middle of August and then in September the games will come. The future of football will be rotation. We need to be ready and have that quality.”
Pellegrini conceded that West Ham need to do better.
“We knew before the game that our start was very difficult,” he said. “In our first few games we need to play some of the big teams.
“We need to improve in attack and continue working.”
Salah’s goal featured an important contribution from new signing Naby Keita, who cost 50 million pounds ($63.84m) from RB Leipzig.
Guinea’s Keita was excellent throughout. Liverpool’s other debutant, Alisson, was much less involved as the London side struggled to make chances.
Their best one followed a lucky bounce off the referee but Marko Arnautovic miscued his shot.
By the interval they had conceded again after leaving three attackers unmarked in front of goal. Mane was the one who knocked in James Milner’s pull-back.
He scored Liverpool’s third and Sturridge came off the bench in the final few minutes to score at the far post from a corner with his first touch.
The result continued West Ham’s dreadful record at Anfield, which now extends to one win in 46 league games. Liverpool, meanwhile, have not conceded a goal in their last six home games in the league — since West Ham scored against them in February.
Pellegrini gave debuts to Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Fabian Balbuena, Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere, then introduced a sixth newcomer Andriy Yarmolenko as a substitute.
Anderson and Yarmolenko had their moments but overall the visitors were comprehensively outplayed.
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(Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Christian Radnedge)