By Peter Hall
LIVERPOOL (Reuters) – Sadio Mane scored against his former club as nervy Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1 and made it two wins from two at the start of the new Premier League season on Saturday.
Juergen Klopp’s side struggled to get going at St Mary’s but produced a moment of quality at just the right time, with Mane brilliantly giving them the lead on the stroke of half time, before Roberto Firmino made sure of the win after the break.
Earlier, Arsenal made hard work of getting the better of a determined Burnley side at the Emirates, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s seventh goal in four appearances against Burnley earning Arsenal a 2-1 win.
There was a first victory of the season for Bournemouth away at Aston Villa, as two early goals condemned the hosts to a 2-1 loss, while newly promoted Norwich City and Everton earned home wins.
With champions Manchester City not in action until later on Saturday, Liverpool seized the chance to put down a marker but they were far from their best in the opening period, with Southampton missing two good chances to snatch the lead.
Liverpool stand-in goalkeeper Adrian brilliantly denied Maya Yoshida before, on his home debut, Che Adams went close but the hosts were made to rue their profligacy as Mane curled home.
Mane’s 20th goal in all competitions in 2019 settled Liverpool, who were vastly improved after the break, with Firmino making it two after capitalising on a defensive mistake from Saints.
Danny Ings’s late goal against his former club was mere consolation for Southampton, as Liverpool made it 11 consecutive Premier League wins, equalling their best-ever winning streak in the competition.
“It was not easy but you have to expect a tough game like this at this stage,” Mane said.
“Once we scored the first goal it was easier for us. I’m sorry it is against my old team and sorry I have to score but I’m wearing a Liverpool shirt now.”
Looking to build on his side’s opening-day victory, Arsenal manager Unai Emery gave first starts to new signings David Luiz and Dani Ceballos, with the latter involved immediately, setting up Alexandre Lacazette for Arsenal’s opener.
Burnley, though, did not give up and were level before half time through Ashley Barnes, who scored his third goal of the season from close range.
After the break, Ceballos continued to stand out, setting up Aubameyang for his superb winner in a match which saw Burnley have more shots at goal.
“In a lot of moments we couldn’t impose our gameplan because they pushed and their gameplan was a struggle for us,” Emery said.
“The new players impacted it here today. We worked together with individual capacity and quality but above all thinking like a team.”
Last season’s Championship top goalscorer Teemu Pukki took his Premier League tally to four with a sensational hat-trick to earn Premier League new boys Norwich a 3-1 win over Newcastle United.
Everton were far from their best against manager Marco Silva’s former side Watford, but Brazilian Bernard’s first home Premier League goal was enough for the hosts to secure the 1-0 victory.
A penalty conceded inside 40 seconds set Villa on the back foot against Bournemouth, as Josh King converted before Harry Wilson, on loan from Liverpool, put the visitors 2-0 in front.
Villa piled on the pressure in the second half, but Douglas Luiz’s 30-yard stunner was all they could muster as Villa continue to look for their first Premier League point.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; editing by Tony Lawrence)