African trio star as Liverpool make superb start

African goal poachers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah tormented West Ham United as Liverpool went top of the English Premier League with a 4-0 opening-round triumph at Anfield.

Senegalese Mane bagged a brace and 2017-2018 Premier League Player of the Season Salah from Egypt also scored while new Guinean signing Naby Keita sparkled.

“Naby is a good player — you can see that and he’s only going to get better,” said Liverpool veteran James Milner.

England

SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

He scored shortly after being denied by West Ham’s ultra-busy goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. Mane made no mistake from close range after being set up by a terrific run by former England international Milner. The 26-year-old forward added a second early in the second half.

MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)

Started quickly to set aside the disappointment of the World Cup with Liverpool’s first goal, a finely-taken effort and was unlucky to go in at the break with just one to his name as the outstanding Fabianski saved twice from him. He even earned a hug from a Liverpool fan invading the pitch in the second half, which provoked a beaming smile from the Egyptian star.

NABY KEITA (Liverpool)

The Guinea international is flattered to have been given the number eight shirt that icon Steven Gerrard wore and has not been used since he retired. He certainly did it proud in his first Premier League appearance since arriving from RB Leipzig, settling in well and sparking the move that led to Salah’s first-half goal. The 23-year-old provided an impressive performance at the heart of midfield.

YVES BISSOUMA (Brighton)


The young Mali midfielder came on with half a hour to go in a 2-0 loss at Watford for his Premier League bow for Brighton since moving from Ligue 1 Lille. However, the 21-year-old Ivory Coast-born player, like his team-mates, failed to flourish in what manager Chris Hughton had eyed as a potential victory having bought prudently in the close season.

WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Palace had already, to a certain extent, secured a victory before the season started in keeping their skilful Ivorian forward and warding off courting rivals. The 25-year-old showed how important he is to Roy Hodgson’s season, whether it be another battle against relegation or somewhat loftier ambitions than that, as he went close with one effort before scoring the second goal, slotting the ball home from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s pass, in an impressive 2-0 opening win at big-spending London rivals Fulham.

JEAN-MICHAEL SERI (Fulham)

Having spent £100 million (112 mn euros) on new players — the most by a newly promoted Premier League club — with a quarter of that sum splashed on the former Nice midfielder, the ball-winning Ivory Coast star did not disappoint in an impressive debut. Even though the match ended in defeat, 27-year-old Seri’s performance augurs well, even if he tired a little.

France

BERTRAND TRAORE (Lyon)

The Burkina Faso forward made a fine start to his second season in France with an impressive solo goal in Lyon’s 2-0 win over Amiens on the opening weekend. The 22-year-old Traore, who netted 13 times in his debut season in France, drove past a defender and into the penalty area before slotting the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Regis Gurtner from an acute angle.

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