The Reds won their first game at an expanded Anfield in style on September 10, 2016 while — 11 years earlier — John Arne Riise came within inches of a White Hart Lane wonder strike.
Saturday September 10, 2016: Liverpool 4-1 Leicester City (Premier League, Anfield)
Jürgen Klopp’s men rose to the occasion in-front of a crowd of 53,075 — at the time, the biggest Anfield attendance since May 1977 — in what was their first home game of 2016/17.
Arsenal, Burnley and Tottenham, in the Premier League, and Burton Albion, in the League Cup, had been visited in August, as the finishing touches were made to the new three-tier structure, which added approximately 8,500 seats to the ground’s previous capacity.
The Merseysiders had won, lost and then drawn in those opening three league fixtures, but the visit of Claudio Ranieri’s champions on an idyllically sunlit evening marked the start of a five-game winning streak in all competitions as the ultimately successful top-four chase built-up its first head of steam.
Joël Matip, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mané each made their home debuts, having all arrived over the summer — and the first impressions were positive ones.
A free-flowing, high-intensity display was bookended by cleverly taken Roberto Firmino goals.
His first in the 13th minute saw James Milner — in his increasingly familiar left-back role — find his run to the edge of the Leicester box, before the Brazilian nimbly dipped inside Robert Huth with his first-touch and then reversed an excellent right-footed finish past Kasper Schmeichel and into the bottom-left corner with his second.
Mané doubled the hosts’ lead 18 minutes later when Firmino came deep to lay the ball off to Jordan Henderson, whose first-time ball in-behind found Daniel Sturridge. Mané dashed diagonally inside and the England striker’s superb backheel rolled straight into his path, allowing the Senegalese to force the ball beyond Schmeichel with the outside of his right boot.
Sturridge had started between Mané and Firmino largely due to Philippe Coutinho only returning from international duty with Brazil the previous day — and the striker caught the eye in typically stylish fashion.
Another Brazilian, Lucas Leiva, had himself been drafted into central defence, after Dejan Lovren picked up a nasty black eye in training during the week.
The then 29-year-old put in a largely sound display in the Croat’s absence but, in the 38th minute, did provide a reminder of the more regular defensive carelessness that still tended to plague the Reds.
After receiving a short goal-kick from Simon Mignolet, the No.21 lost control of the ball under pressure from Shinji Okazaki and — in his attempt to rescue the situation — inadvertently poked the ball across the six-yard box and into the path of Jamie Vardy, who slotted into the unguarded net.
Only 11 months into his reign, though, Klopp’s side had already shown signs that they were becoming more adept at dealing with set-backs. That trait was displayed again here.
They steadied themselves and, come the 56th minute, Adam Lallana — thriving in what, then, was still a relatively new No.8 role — fired them into a 3-1 lead.
Wijnaldum’s dart into the box was nicely found by Sturridge and when the Dutchman held the ball up and rolled the ball into the path of Lallana, the former Southampton skipper had no hesitation in rifling a first-time right-footed shot into the top-left corner from 15-yards.
After scoring a stoppage-time winner for England in Slovakia the previous Sunday — in what proved to be Sam Allardyce’s single game in charge of the national team — this represented the completion of a satisfying week for the No.20.
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The Foxes remained persistent as the clock ticked down, but Liverpool held out when they needed to and broke dangerously whenever they could.
They did just that in the 89th minute when Henderson released Mané down the left. Schmeichel raced out but was beaten to the ball by the forward, who advanced to the edge of the box before he squared to Firmino.
He let the ball — and Christian Fuchs — come to him, before his first touch took him back inside the Austrian defender and gave him a clear sight of the open net, which he duly found with a cool left-footed finish.
It felt at the time like that would be the first of many appropriately big performances inside the additionally sizeable Anfield. Thankfully, in the four years since, that notion has proved a happily accurate one.
Saturday September 10, 2005: Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Liverpool (Premiership, White Hart Lane)
A considerably less entertaining — and indeed memorable — contest, but only courtesy of the width of a North London crossbar.
Despite both sides creating chances, the Reds’ third league outing of 2005/06 remained goalless. The closest Rafael Benítez’s men came to earning all three points against Martin Jol’s Spurs was hardly via a ‘chance’, as such, either.
Riise tended to be stationed on the edge of the box for corners at the time — it wasn’t uncommon to see Steven Gerrard and co float the ball in that direction for the Norwegian to volley goalwards. This time, though, a defender’s headed clearance dropped perfectly into his path early in the second half.
The No.6 practically leapt onto it with glee and thundered a 20-yard left-footed volley towards the top-left corner. Sadly, it didn’t give gravity quite enough time to get hold of it, and the ball thumped the underside of the crossbar, thumped the goal-line and bounced out.
Later on, Spurs debutant Grzegorz Rasiak and then Peter Crouch each thought they’d netted from corners but both deliveries were adjudged to have swung out of play before being converted.
Still, it proved a solid enough away point in a season in which Liverpool would gain 82 in total and finish third — two places higher than in Benítez’s Champions League-winning debut campaign.
Just a little lower, though, and that moment of immense skill and power from Riise would have graced many a DVD and social media compilation in the decade-and-a-half since.