Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struck at Southampton as Liverpool won 2-1 to continue its run of consecutive Premier League victories despite a late Adrian mistake.
Jurgen Klopp's Reds started poorly on the south coast on Saturday, seeing their host squander a couple of presentable first-half chances, but Mane, as so often, came up with the goods.
His brilliant effort - a third of the season after two in the UEFA Super Cup final - woke Liverpool from its slumber and it was comfortable in the second period even before Firmino doubled the advantage.
There was a wobble when Adrian hacked the ball straight at Danny Ings for an unlikely Saints response. Former Reds striker Ings should have equalised with a gilt-edged chance for his second, yet Liverpool held on.
A run of nine wins to close out last season could not deny Manchester City the title, but that streak of league successes goes on - reaching a club-record-equalling 11 - as Klopp's men look to be in the mix again this term.
Liverpool, perhaps missing Alisson's calm in possession, looked shaky at the back early on, but it was grateful to Adrian - passed fit after a freak ankle injury in the Super Cup celebrations - for an instinctive close-range stop from Maya Yoshida following a corner.
The host remained on top and had another huge headed chance as Che Adams met Oriol Romeu's cross 10 yards out but nodded over the crossbar. Yet after 46 minutes of toil, former Southampton man Mane came up with a moment of inspiration for the European champion in first-half stoppage time, cutting inside from the left and drilling into the top-right corner from 20 yards.
Liverpool was improved after the restart and Joel Matip flicked James Milner's scuffed shot agonisingly wide, before Angus Gunn denied Mohamed Salah as he raced through on the right. Firmino should have stretched the lead when he slid a finish past the right-hand post, but he made no mistake the next time he was granted a sight of goal, moving from left to right in the area and striking low into the bottom-left corner.
Gunn expertly saved from Mane and Andy Robertson, and Southampton threatened a late fightback when Adrian comically hurried a clearance into Ings' shins with the ball finding the back of the net. The former Liverpool man squandered another late chance from close range as Klopp's men escaped.
What does it mean? Reds already battling for points
It will still be fresh in the mind of Liverpool players, staff and fans how taxing last season's title challenge was. We are in August but, at St Mary's, the visitor's display was that of a side already prepared to dig in again. The Reds were poor for 45 minutes but got the job done. The sign of champions? Two games into the season, they might hope to be more fluent.
Mane the man again
Klopp was able to name his first-choice front three from the start for the first time this season and, predictably, it was Mane and Firmino who made the difference. Mane's goal was particularly key as Southampton was hammering on the door and he turned the match in the visitor's favour.
Adrian fit but at fault
There were concerns Andy Lonergan was going to have to make his Premier League debut at 35 years old when Adrian was struggling following the Super Cup. The Spaniard was fit to start and made one crucial first-half stop, but his mistake for Southampton's goal provided a reminder of his limitations - even if Alisson has been guilty of similar in the past.
Liverpool is now already four games into the new season and its next task is a tough one, with Klopp's men hosting Arsenal next Saturday. Southampton goes to Brighton and Hove Albion earlier on the same day.
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