Liverpool made a winning return to Anfield with a 2-0 triumph against Burnley thanks to goals in either half from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane.
Welcoming a capacity crowd back to their home ground, Liverpool stepped up through the gears as the game progressed. Jota’s header and Mane’s instinctive strike were enough to see off a stubborn Burnley.
The visitors made a game of it but Liverpool just had too much for them in the end in a game that was lively from start to finish.
Alisson Becker: Had to be alert from the get-go, claiming an early low cross and making a point-blank save midway through the first half. Even showed his Brazilian flair by comfortably outmanoeuvring a Burnley attacker with the ball at his feet. But was almost beaten when failing to claim an aerial ball on the edge of his area as half-time approached. Averted any danger in the second half, though, to earn his clean sheet. 7/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Showed his usual range of passing at first, before carelessly giving the ball away to concede one half-chance. Regained his composure, though, and even delivered a few inviting crosses from his weaker left foot. Continued to create, dinking the assist for Liverpool’s second. 7
Joel Matip: Quickly warmed to the intensity of the game both in and out of possession, playing long passes and winning headers. Took more of a backseat in the second half as his defensive partner rose to the fore. 7
Virgil van Dijk: In the right place at the right time to stave off a late Burnley threat in the first half after a relatively quiet introduction to the match. Won headers and made clearances early in the second half. Even had a shot that nearly snuck in when going up for a set piece. 7
Kostas Tsimikas: Outmuscled a Burnley attacker within the opening 10 minutes, showing a more physical side to his game. Reminded what he can do on the ball by whipping in the cross for the opening goal. Took on the responsibility of taking corners and made a good impression. 8
Harvey Elliott: Perhaps the most surprising inclusion in the lineup, was given an early reminder about the intensity of Premier League football when on the receiving end of a couple of tough challenges. But he began to get on the ball, displaying his confidence. The reward almost came when he slid through Salah with a brilliant assist for what could have been Liverpool’s second goal, but his teammate was offside. Kept persevering and made a few inviting crosses. 8
Harvey Elliott is 18, it's his first start at Anfield for Liverpool, he's been volleyed by the opposition at every opportunity, and he's still been excellent.
Some player we've got there y'know.
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) August 21, 2021
Jordan Henderson: Back in a Premier League lineup for the first time since February, began to dictate the rhythm as the first half progressed. Added another dimension with his ability to dig out crosses, albeit on an infrequent basis. Saw more of the ball in the early exchanges of the second half. 7
Naby Keita: Displayed good feet when on the ball early on and showed the awareness to pick out Tsimikas for the assist of Liverpool’s first goal. Confidence rising, he even had a go on goal from outside the box in the first half, but it flew over. His passing was his best way to contribute, though, and he kept picking out good spaces. Arguably one of his best performances in the red shirt. 8
Mohamed Salah: Forced a comfortable save from Pope with an intriguing curled effort midway through the second half. Took his disallowed goal well and continued to express himself. 7
Diogo Jota: Opened the scoring for Liverpool with a well-placed header from the centre-forward position. Justified his start and drifted between spaces well. 7
Anfield erupts! 🎚
Diogo Jota with a perfectly placed header after Konstantinos Tsimikas picks him out from the wing 🎯 pic.twitter.com/JgsPC8spkh
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 21, 2021
Sadio Mane: A game of two halves for one of Liverpool’s biggest stars. Had a quiet first half and didn’t have enough space to get a powerful shot away when he finally found an opening 10 minutes after the break. Became more of a threat from that point on, finding more venomous shots. The breakthrough came with a well-taken goal to make it 2-0. 7
Roberto Firmino (on for Jota, 81) N/A
Thiago Alcantara (on for Keita, 81) N/A
Joe Gomez (on for Tsimikas, 90+) N/A
Nick Pope: Was in control of his area early on, coming out to beat Salah to a ball on the edge of the box. Little he could do for the opening goal and kept the scoreline at 1-0 by the break thanks to a confident punched clearance of a cross. Wasn’t afraid to come out of his area after the break either. Good at claiming crosses. 7
Matthew Lowton: Was an asset for Burnley when getting forward, for example via his crossing. Did brilliantly to create a chance early in the second half, from which Ashley Barnes put the ball in the net, but the attacker was offside. Delivery let him down on other, later occasions though. 7
James Tarkowski: Made his influence felt at the opposite end of the pitch to what would have been expected when outmuscling Alisson in an aerial challenge late in the first half. Won duels in more natural territory after the break, both in flight and on the deck. 6
Ben Mee: Allowed himself to be beaten when Jota ran across him for the opening goal. But headed away a Salah shot late in the first half to keep the scoreline within reach and snuffed out further danger as Liverpool tried to get in behind. Won more in the air despite the game beginning to slip away. 7
Charlie Taylor: Showed strength to deny some Liverpool half-chances in the box, but had mixed success defending crosses, some of which he blocked and others he let past. Resilience increased further in the second half with blocks from out wide and in the centre. 7
Johann Berg Gudmundsson: Combative from a wider position, but also an occasional threat on the ball with his crossing. 6
Jack Cork: Created Burnley’s first chance with a clever reverse pass, although the resulting chance was flagged offside. It wasn’t his last involvement as he continued to seek to create, although sometimes lacking finesse. Also showed his defensive attributes with some blocks in the box when Liverpool’s pressure was rising late in the first half. Began to lose some energy late on. 7
Josh Brownhill: Ensured Burnley’s physical approach was applied from the beginning with an early foul and put pressure on the opponents even in advanced territory. Calm enough on the ball. 6
Dwight McNeil: His usual confident self, wasn’t afraid to drive at the defence. Particularly after Burnley went behind, he gained more urgency, taking on crosses and shots. His direct approach caused some problems for Alexander-Arnold. Even contributed in the defensive third, blocking a goalbound Salah effort towards the hour-mark. As expected, Burnley’s biggest threat. 8
Chris Wood: Led the line well in the first half, looking to get on the end of crosses or hold the ball up. Saw less of the ball later on and was withdrawn. 6
Ashley Barnes: Burnley became more confident when he was more involved with hold-up play in the first half. Like his strike partner, became starved of action as the conclusion approached. 6
Jay Rodriguez (on for Wood, 75) N/A
Erik Pieters (on for Gudmundsson, 79) N/A