Yesterday’s draw with Liverpool was some occasion. The Cottage was bouncing even before kick off thanks to someone’s inspired decision to play a bit of ‘Freed from Desire’ as the time ticked around towards 12.30pm. The introduction of ‘We’re back banners’ continued a carnival atmosphere as the teams walked out, but there was always the fear that the quality of the Champions’ League runners-up could carve through a side that rewarded some of Marco Silva’s Championship heroes and introduced a couple of his summer signings. We shouldn’t have worried.

The result was genuinely historic, too. It was the first time Fulham had avoided defeat in their opening fixture after being promotion to the top tier of English football. They were beaten by Wolves in 1949, battered 4-0 by Blackburn a decade later, came gloriously close to shocking Manchester United but eventually succumbed in a five-goal thriller in 2001, were swatted aside clinically by Crystal Palace in 2018 and outclassed by Arsenal in 2020. As Tristan Poturicic tweeted last night, it is also the first time Fulham have not lost their first home league fixture after making it to the top flight. Whenever the Whites have lost, they’ve been relegated at the end of the season. Those are good omens.

It seems preposterous to be a bit disappointed with a point against the second best side in Europe, but that’s how it felt after a defensive mix-up handed Mo Salah a simple tap in. Considering I would have bitten your arm off for a draw in the run up to the game, it shows just how impressive Silva’s side were. I have to confess to being a bit concerned about the Portuguese head coach’s selection, but all of his decisions were justified by how the ninety minutes played out. Marek Rodak made only one save – but it was a magnificent relax stop to deny Darwin Nunez his preferred chipped finish. Kenny Tete had comfortably his best game in a Fulham shirt and supplied a sensational cross for the Whites to take the lead. Tim Ream might have made an error that led to the second goal, but turned in a captain’s display.

You felt the game would hinge on how Fulham started and they began better than any of us could have imagined. Aleksandar Mitrovic should have shot us outside inside the first three minutes after Bobby Decordova-Reid had closed down Trent Alexander-Arnold, but on a day when the Serbian did literally everything right, it seems foolish to quibble about his finishing. Mitrovic’s brace hogged the headlines, but the crucial contributions came courtesy of Harrison Reed and Joao Palhinha in the engine room. The hipsters call this a ‘double pivot’ these days but Palhinha, a Portuguese tank to rival in the T-90-MS, had no time for any niceties. He was everywhere disrupting any Liverpool rhythm in the middle of the park and Reed’s energy is so ceaseless that his own covering of the ground is largely unremarkable.

Andreas Pereira had an enterprising debut, darting into pockets of space from the number ten role, and getting beyond Mitrovic regularly. Neeskens Kebano was outstanding for 65 minutes and desperately unlucky not to double the lead when his low drive came back off the inside of the post: when the Congolese winger departed, Manor Solomon stepped up and set Mitrovic free for the penalty, where he twisted Virgin van Dijk this way and that, before inducing an ill-time dangling of his leg by the bewildered Dutch centre back. it was the first time since he came to England that van Dijk had been dribbled past and considered a penalty in the same game.

It was some effort to continue the intensity against an outside like Liverpool, who – even though they looked really off-colour – were still going to have spells where they penned the hosts back. Ream, whose position in the senior squad has been debated over social media all summer, did brilliantly to hook a goalbound effort off the line and such was his dominance of Roberto Formino that the Brazilian was hooked early in the second period. Fulham never give and certainly don’t look like a pushover on this evidence.

Much of the commentary in the run up to this game centred around Mitrovic and whether he would be good enough to trouble top flight defences. It is all bunk given that he is Serbia’s top goalscorer and cannot be considered merely a target man. Lianne Sanderson was the latest talking head to embarrass herself yesterday, but she had plenty of company. Fulham now play to the number nine’s strengths inside of leaving him out entirely – which does help. His towering header at the back post completed a gorgeous move to give the Whites the lead and you could tell he was enjoying himself when he left Jordan Henderson in a heap on the floor and executed a Cruyff turn that befuddled van Dijk. He produced a joyous jink to win the spot-kick, which he converted himself, to move eighth in the list of Fulham’s all-time goalscorers, two short of a century.

First impressions can be misleading – but starting strongly has been a Silva mantra. They might have given everyone else a roadmap of how to rattle Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp was certainly steaming, suggesting the Craven Cottage pitch was too dry, an excuse almost up there with his response to the Whites’ last Premier League win, at Anfield in 2021. There, Klopp suggested Fulham were long ball merchants – only to be informed that the Opto stats said his side had delivered more of them. It is vital to keep our feet on the ground, but this was an enthralling appetiser for Silva service at the top table. It definitely won’t be dull.