LONDON – Christian Benteke’s controversial winner on his Anfield debut ensured Liverpool maintained their 100% start to the new season with an unconvincing victory over Premier League newcomers Bournemouth.
Liverpool’s Â£32.5m summer signing from Aston Villa turned home from close range in front of the Kop after 26 minutes – but Philippe Coutinho was clearly offside as he also tried to reach Jordan Henderson’s cross.
It meant a second successive narrow defeat for Bournemouth, who showed plenty of confidence and promise and were also frustrated when Tommy Elphick’s early header was ruled out by referee Craig Pawson for a foul on Dejan Lovren.
Eddie Howe’s side had plenty of possession but rarely troubled Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and it was Benteke who came closest to adding a second on his impressive Anfield bow when he struck the bar from close range in the last minute.
It was a case of job done for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers in front of watching owner John W Henry with a second win and second clean sheet of the new season.
Benteke was Liverpool’s biggest summer investment and Rodgers needs him to deliver – and fast – to ease the pain of last season.
And the early signs were very promising, not just with his winning goal, but also his all-round play.
Christian Benteke scored 49 goals in 101 games for Aston Villa after signing from Genk for Â£7m in 2012
The giant Belgian showed his power in the air on several occasions, demonstrating a physical presence that will give a Reds side with a possession-heavy game an added dimension.
Benteke also showed good team awareness and pace on several occasions, his link with Coutinho looked like it could be highly productive as the season progresses.
It has been a hard landing for Bournemouth in the Premier League with defeats by Aston Villa and now Liverpool, but there is plenty for Howe to take away from this visit to one of the biggest stages in English football.
The Cherries may need to solve a lack of goals in coming months but they were not daunted by Liverpool or the Kop and played with a confident passing style that will certainly not look out of place in the top flight.
It will be a tough season for Bournemouth and that early table does not look good, but on this evidence there is not the slightest reason for despondency for Howe and his players other than in the pain of another defeat. They were excellent for long spells. – BBC Sport