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Late winners & 7-goal thrillers – Liverpool’s 5 most dramatic Premier League openers

As Liverpool gear up for another gruelling campaign, we take a look back at the Reds’ five most dramatic season-openers from the Premier League era.

And just like that, it’s back.

This weekend, Liverpool begin their 2022/23 league campaign with a trip to Craven Cottage to take on newly-promoted Fulham.

In years gone by, we’ve witnessed some simply crazy opening day matches, some more successful than others!

Here, we list Liverpool’s five most dramatic Premier League openers.

 

5. 2007/08 – Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool

That Steven Gerrard free-kick.

Rafa Benitez’s Reds travelled to Villa Park with high hopes for the 2007/08 season, having managed a third-placed finish in the previous campaign.

Their opening day clash seemed to be going to plan after 30 minutes, when Villa defender Martin Laursen turned Dirk Kuyt’s cross into his own net.

But when Jamie Carragher was deemed to have handled the ball in his own box five minutes from time, Gareth Barry levelled the scores from the spot and Liverpool looked set to be held to a draw.

Gerrard, though, was having none of it. One minute later, he won a free-kick in a dangerous position, before stepping up to fire it into the top corner. Trademark Stevie.

Pandemonium in the away end.

 

4. 1996/97 – Middlesbrough 3-3 Liverpool

Fabrizio Ravanelli. A name that gave Liverpool fans shudders in the weeks and months after the Reds’ 1996/97 opener.

Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson paraded his new £7 million signing prior to the match, with the Italian forward arriving from Juventus that summer.

Ravanelli scored his first goal in English football by levelling from the penalty spot, after Stig Inge Bjornebye’s early opener.

John Barnes put Liverpool back in front, only for Ravanelli to equalise yet again.

Robbie Fowler thought he’d won it for the Reds in the second half, only for Ravanelli to complete his hat-trick within the last 10 minutes.

 

3. 2017/18 – Watford 3-3 Liverpool

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren appeals after Watford score an injury time equalising goal to level the score 3-3 during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another six-goal thriller, and another opener Liverpool really should have won.

This was the type of performance we became accustomed to seeing during the early stages of Jurgen Klopp‘s time at the club. Lethal in attack, but not good enough at the other end of the pitch.

Watford went into half-time with a 2-1 lead, with Sadio Mane‘s curler overshadowed by some shoddy Liverpool defending.

In the second half, we got a glimpse of what was to come with Mane, Roberto Firmino and new signing Mohamed Salah combining well in attack. Firmino equalised from the penalty spot, and Salah put the Reds in front two minutes later.

The Hornets’ controversial equaliser came in the 93rd minute, when Uruguayan defender Britos headed over the line from point blank range, after the Liverpool defence failed to clear from a corner.

An extremely frustrating first day.

 

2. 2020/21 – Liverpool 4-3 Leeds

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp congratulates hat-trick hero Mohamed Salah after the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool really don’t make it easy for themselves!

Their 2020/21 opener was played behind-closed doors due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and, at times, Reds watching on at home couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing in this game.

This was Leeds‘ first game back in the Premier League after a lengthy absence from the English top-flight, and you could immediately see that Marcelo Bielsa’s side were going to be good fun!

After a wide-open first half, the reigning Premier League champions went into half-time with a 3-2 lead after a Salah double and a Virgil van Dijk header.

But Leeds weren’t done yet. Mateusz Klich equalised in the 66th minute and, for some time, it looked as if the Reds were heading for an opening day draw.

Thankfully, Salah secured his hat-trick and all three points with an 88th-minute penalty, his second of the game. A simply crazy game of football.

 

1. 2016/17 – Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date August 14th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

An absolute classic.

Liverpool’s poor defending really wasn’t fun to witness at the time, but looking back, it did offer up some simply ridiculous games of football.

Their opener at the Emirates Stadium in 2016 was a seven-goal thriller. Theo Walcott gave the Gunners the lead early on, before Philippe Coutinho equalised with one of the best free-kicks you’ll see.

In the second half, the Reds raced into a 4-1 lead, with the pick of the goals coming from Mane on debut, before the Senegalese jumped onto Klopp’s back in celebration. Iconic.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who would go on to join the Reds a year later, and Calum Chambers pulled two goals back to make it a nervy last 15 minutes, but this time Liverpool managed to hold on.

It was an opening day victory that felt huge, and set the Reds on their way in a campaign that would see them qualify for the Champions League in Klopp’s first full season.

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