The hosts took the lead somewhat against the run-of-play late on in the first half when Zoltan Gera fired a fantastic half-volley into the top corner from 25 yards out before a few minutes of madness early in the second period saw two penalties given as Daniel Agger received a red card for bringing down Shane Long, and then Martin Skrtel felled the Irishman.
Long missed the first spot-kick, but Peter Odemwingie made no mistake with the second, with Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku securing the win with 14 minutes to go, but Clarke felt the win could have been even more empathic.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Clarke said: “Maybe in the second half when we had a few chances we could have got another couple of goals. But no, that was good [start to the season], it was a good start.
“You work through pre-season and you’ve always got to focus on the first game. There was probably a bit more spotlight on me because of my Liverpool background but the players showed they had been listening throughout the pre-season and it was a great result for us.”
Clarke paid homage to the scorer of the opening goal, Gera, praising his impact despite a torrid time with injuries in the past year.
He continued: “It was a great strike. Zoltan has had a really difficult time with injuries and has slowly made his way back through pre-season.
“There was a ten minute cameo earlier in the pre-season and that was only really used as a confidence booster for him. I’m delighted he managed to score the first goal, and what a super goal it was too.”
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first as Liverpool grasped control as they went in search of an equaliser, but disaster struck as Agger received his marching orders, and Clarke feels that period of play that was key.
“I think at that stage Liverpool had come out after halftime and they looked good,” noted Clarke. “[They] had us on the back foot a little bit so it was important we did get forward.
“We started to create a few chances. We got the penalty, unfortunately we missed it, but we got another chance and Peter [Odemwingie] stepped up and managed to score it, and from there we controlled the game, which is obviously something you look to do when playing against ten men.”