ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
West Ham 0
LONDON • In the words of manager Jurgen Klopp, there is an expectation on Liverpool to make the step up this season.
The first step was thoroughly convincing. West Ham were swatted aside 4-0 at Anfield yesterday as Klopp's team slipped back into the old routine with goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane (two) and substitute Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool scored four or more goals 14 times last season - a record bettered only once in the club's history in 1895-96 - and hit their prolific stride in their opening game as Manuel Pellegrini's new-look side endured a punishing afternoon.
This was a seamless start to the season for Liverpool, who fielded two new additions in midfielder Naby Keita and the world's second-most expensive goalkeeper Alisson, and continued where they left off last term by dominating and demoralising their opponents.
And Mane urged his team-mates to maintain their form, with Liverpool hoping to finally end their 28-year league title drought.
"It's a good time for us," he said. "We have started the season great and everybody is happy. We're going to try to keep the same level and keep going.
"We played great football today, we created many chances. We defended as a team, (were) compact, and tried to win every battle. The most important thing was the three points and we got them."
It's a good time for us. We have started the season great and everybody is happy. We played great football today, we created many chances... The most important thing was the three points and we got them.
SADIO MANE, Liverpool's two-goal hero, hailing the Reds' opening-day performance.
Mane also expressed his delight at how well Keita, who impressed in the middle of the park, took to English football. "He played very, very well. Everybody was happy about the job he did for us. He will do better and better for us because he has great quality," he added.
West Ham, with five of their summer signings in the starting XI, spent most of the contest pinned on the edge of their penalty area and relying on a well-drilled offside trap to frustrate the Reds' front line.
It succeeded early on, even though a breach always seemed as inevitable as the identity of the man who would kick-start Liverpool's new campaign.
If there is a pressure on Salah to reproduce the phenomenal form that yielded 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season, then he appears extremely at ease with it.
The Egypt international has oozed confidence throughout pre-season and needed only 19 minutes to open his account.
A simple tap-in was the end product of a fine team goal, with Liverpool working the ball out of defence and Keita driving through midfield before releasing Andy Robertson on the left of the area.
The left-back delivered his low cross to perfection and there was Salah at the back post to convert the first goal.
The visitors had opportunities to lift the siege, and kept possession well at times under relentless pressure, but Hammers forward Marko Arnautovic dragged two decent openings wide.
Liverpool scored a second in first-half added time when the visiting defence switched off en masse.
A Robertson cross was again instrumental, with the Scotland international floating a delivery to the back post, and James Milner reacted quicker than any opponent to pull the ball back from the byeline.
Mane was one of three players left unmarked and he simply diverted the ball into an empty net.
Pellegrini's attempts to turn the tide after the break by introducing Robert Snodgrass, then Javier Hernandez and Andriy Yarmolenko, were to no avail.
Liverpool continued to pour forward and, though a third goal was a fair reflection of their superiority, they benefited from an offside goal when Mane made it 3-0.
The Senegalese forward's second owed much to the ingenuity and skill of Roberto Firmino and, from an offside position, Mane spun and fired low beyond Fabianski.
It encapsulated West Ham's Merseyside trip that their appeals for a reprieve went unanswered.
There was still time for substitute Daniel Sturridge to add a fourth with his first touch of the game from Milner's corner.
Klopp was caught laughing at the England international's instant impact in what was a perfect all-round performance.