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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Salah nets hat-trick as Liverpool beat Leeds 4-3

                                   Mo Salah


Mohamed Salah scored a hat - trick as Liverpool saw off three fightbacks from Leeds to begin their defence of the Premier League with a thrilling 4-3 win at Anfield .


Leeds ’ return to the English top- flight under Marcelo Bielsa after a 16- year absence was highly anticipated and a clash against the reigning champions lived up to expectations as three times they equalised through Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich to cancel out Salah ’ s first -half double and Virgil van Dijk ’ s header.


However, Salah ’ s second penalty of the game two minutes from time ensured Liverpool got off to a winning start .


Liverpool dropped points at Anfield just once on their romp to a first league title in 30 years last season but were nearly undone on the opening day of their title defence by Leeds ’ daring attacking endeavour and a host of defensive errors.


The hosts made the perfect start when Salah ’ s shot was handled inside the box by Robin Koch and the Egyptian rifled home the resulting penalty .


True to coach Bielsa’ s philosophy , Leeds were not intimidated by the blow of conceding early and came out to go toe -to -toe with the champions.


Harrison equalised in style as the on -loan Manchester City winger cut inside Trent Alexander- Arnold and Joe Gomez before firing low and hard past Alisson Becker.


But it was at the back Leeds looked like a newly -promoted side as slack marking allowed Van Dijk a free header which Illan Meslier should have saved rather than letting the ball trickle over the line.


Van Dijk has been near- faultless in two -and-a- half seasons since his signing transformed Liverpool’ s fortunes under Klopp .


However, a shootout was reminiscent of the German ’ s early days in charge at Anfield as Van Dijk was badly at fault for Leeds ’ second as his attempted clearance teed up Bamford perfectly to side- foot beyond Alisson .


More poor defending from a set -piece meant the visitors again did not hang onto parity for long as Pascal Struijk’ s header from Andy Robertson’ s free - kick picked out Salah at the edge of the box and he controlled before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner .


The chances continued to flow at both ends in the second half as Georginio Wijnaldum, who has been strongly linked with a move to join former Netherlands national team boss Ronald Koeman at Barcelona , was denied by a fine save from Meslier .


Alexander-Arnold was then spared an embarrassing own goal by an offside flag against Harrison, but Leeds did level for a third time when the Liverpool defence was cut open again by Helder Costa’ s pass and Klich controlled before volleying beyond Alisson.


Liverpool have not lost a home game in the Premier League since April 2017 and Leeds came mightily close to ending that record when Kalvin Phillips whistled a free - kick inches past Alisson ’ s right-hand post.


But Jurgen Klopp ’ s men made a habit of scoring late winners on their way to the title last season and the Reds responded like champions for a fourth time late on .


After Van Dijk had another goal from a corner ruled out for a foul by Curtis Jones, Leeds ’ record signing Rodrigo ensured he had a debut to forget with a rash lunge on Fabinho to hand Liverpool a second penalty of the game.


Salah completed his hat -trick by keeping his cool again to send Meslier the wrong way and make sure Liverpool did not stumble out of the gate in the title race .

AFP

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