Liverpool player ratings: three score 8/10 and plenty of 7/10s in Aston Villa victory - gallery
Liverpool delivered their best performance of the 2023-24 Premier League season so far as they strolled past Aston Villa at Anfield.
A first goal for Dominik Szoboszlai, a strike from Mo Salah and a Matty Cash own goal delivered the Reds a comprehensive 3-0 win to retain their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Liverpool couldn’t have asked for a better start and broke the deadlock inside three minutes. A corner fell to Szoboszlai on the edge of the box and he cracked the sweetest of left-foot half-volleys that arrowed into the far corner.
The Reds continued to apply pressure and increased their advantage on 22 minutes. Darwin Nunez was released by Salah and his powerful shot crashed against the inside of the post, although the loose ball ricocheted off Cash and into the unguarded net.
Joel Matip then headed wide when left in acres of space inside the box before Villa eventually threatened the Liverpool goal in the 33 minute but John McGinn’s effort flew over off target.
It was the woodwork that would again time deny Nunez a goal six minutes before half-time, with his dinked shot beating visiting keeper Emi Martinez but hitting the bar.
To their credit, Villa tried to muster a fightback shortly after the interval. A set-piece from the left found Matty Cash at the back post and he must have thought he’d reduced the arrears when he headed towards goal although Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker made a fine stop to repel the effort.
The Reds should have punished that effort yet Nunez’s radar was again off as he prodded Salah’s cross wide from close range. But the £64 million signing from Benfica would prove provider in the 55th minute when he flicked on Andy Robertson’s corner and there was Salah at the back post to finish.
Jurgen Klopp’s side remained on top but the tempo understandably dropped slightly and they could not augment their goal tally. But it was a highly-satisfied day at the office, with Liverpool heading into the international break having taken 10 points from their opening four games.
Arsenal scored four goals in their Champions League thrashing of PSV Eindhoven last week, producing a thrilling display of attacking football, but the most meaningful cheer of the night was not prompted by anything that happened on the pitch. Instead it was a substitution, in the 69th minute, that triggered the game’s biggest outpouring of joy.