By Martyn Herman
LONDON – Liverpool welcomed a full house back to Anfield and rewarded them with a 2-0 victory over Burnley to move top of the Premier League with Brighton and Hove Albion also showing impressive early form to post a second win on Saturday.
Juergen Klopp’s side started slowly with Burnley hitting the post inside the opening five minutes but goals by Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane eased them to a comfortable win.
Brighton joined them on six points later with a comfortable 2-0 win over Watford — Shane Duffy and Neal Maupay on target.
Champions Manchester City rebounded from their opening day defeat at Tottenham Hotspur to demolish promoted Norwich City 5-0 with record signing Jack Grealish scoring on his home debut.
Brentford maintained their impressive start to their first top-flight campaign for 74 years as they fought out a 0-0 draw away at Crystal Palace while Everton and Leeds United also shared the points in a 2-2 draw at Elland Road.
Newcastle United suffered a second consecutive loss as they went down 2-0 at Aston Villa.
It was an emotional day at Anfield where the first capacity crowd since March 2020 paid a tribute to lifelong fan Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough tragedy who died in July, 32 years after suffering life-changing injuries.
If anything the atmosphere hampered Liverpool early on and Dwight McNeil hit the post for Burnley.
But Jota settled the nerves in the 18th minute, heading in the opener past Nick Pope.
Burnley had a goal by Ashley Barnes disallowed for offside but Liverpool dominated after the break with 17 goal attempts but had to wait until the 69th minute to make the points safe when Mane pounced for his 50th Liverpool goal from an assist by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“Everybody was really looking forward to this football festival, to this game, and I think nobody leaves this place today with any kind of disappointment because I think all of our dreams were fulfilled today, atmosphere-wise,” Klopp said.
“How the game was as well, was pretty special, because Burnley are Burnley — and Burnley cause you problems.”
Brighton claimed back-to-back wins at the start of a top-flight season for the first time in their history with Duffy powering in an early header and Maupay seizing on a mistake to make it 2-0 shortly before halftime.
Manchester City were off the pace last weekend against Tottenham but were ruthless against a Norwich side dealt a cruel fixture list to launch their return to the top flight.
City took the lead in the seventh minute when Gabriel Jesus’s cross forced a panicky clearance that rebounded into the net off Norwich keeper Tim Krul before 100 million pounds man Grealish bundled in a Jesus cross in the 22nd minute.
Aymeric Laporte made it 3-0 in the 65th minute before substitutes Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez completed the rout.
“This result was the consequence of how many good things we have done,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
“We are still not at the top — there are still many things to do. We trained, we were refreshed, happy for these first points…. hopefully they will not be the last!”
While Grealish scored on his home debut for City, Danny Ings did likewise for Aston Villa, producing an acrobatic bicycle kick volley to open the scoring against Newcastle.
Anwar El Ghazi’s penalty sealed the points.
“We have seen Danny Ings do it against us so it is good he is an Aston Villa player now,” Villa boss Dean Smith said of the striker they signed from Southampton.
Leeds twice battled back to draw with Everton in a scintillating clash at Elland Road.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s penalty gave Everton a lead that was cancelled out by Mateusz Klich but Demarai Gray restored Everton’s advantage.
Raphinha lashed home a superb effort with 18 minutes remaining to give Leeds their first point of the season.
Patrick Vieira got his first point as manager of Crystal Palace in a drab stalemate with London rivals Brentford who are yet to concede.
Chelsea face Arsenal on Sunday after Southampton host Manchester United and Tottenham go to Wolves.