Premier League champions Liverpool began their title defense this Saturday with a win against Leeds, the day that the historic team now trained by Marcelo Bielsa returned to the top flight 16 years later (4-3). Former Valencian player Rodrigo will have a bad memory of his official debut with Leeds, since he committed the penalty on Fabinho that Mohamed Salah transformed into 4-3, thus sealing his hat trick. Georginio Wijnaldum, wanted by Barcelona, played the 90 minutes.
In the pulse between two coaches as charismatic as Jürgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa, it was clear that Leeds did not want to be a stone guest at that Anfield in which the ‘You’ll never walk alone’ sounded but with empty stands due to the coronavirus pandemic. And evidently it was not. He brushed away taking a point that would have been, for his team’s bravery and play, deserved.
A dizzying first part
And indeed the first half was dizzying and ended with a tight 3-2 after Leeds leveled the advantage of the ‘reds’ twice, who advanced already in minute 4 by transforming a Mohamed Salah penalty. The maximum penalty, by the hand of Koch. However, it didn’t take long for Leeds to tie: it was at 12 ‘, when Jack Harrison took advantage of a ball from Kalvin Phillips.
Liverpool had to start over and took the lead again after a rehearsed play, when Virgil van Dijk headed in after a corner kick from Andy Robertson in the 20th minute. However, an error by the Dutch captain was used by Patrick Bamford to make it 2-2 on the scoreboard.
The Premier League champion did not live calmly at the beginning of his defense of the title, but he was able to go to rest in advantage after Salah’s second goal, a left-footed shot that the Egyptian winger placed for the squad. Emotions were not lacking, with so many annulled Helder Costa and Sadio Mané.
Leeds remained a threat to the ‘reds’ and, although a Harrison goal was disallowed after an Alexander-Arnold error, Mateusz Klich took advantage of a loose ball for a new equalizer, 3-3. By then, Rodrigo (who had already entered, in his debut in the Premier, relieving Bamford) participated in the play.
Liverpool, pressing incessantly, had a goal by Van Dijk disallowed, but the maximum penalty committed by Rodrigo (who had entered the 62 ‘for Bamford) was taken advantage of by Salah. The champion started winning although with certain doubts.
Liverpool, 4: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Matip, 89 ‘), Joe Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson (Jones, 66 ‘), Keita (Fabinho, 58’); Salah, Firmino and Mané
Leeds, 3: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Struijk, Dallas; Phillips (Shackleton, 81 ‘), Klich, Harrison, Pablo Hernández (Roberts, 62’); Costa and Bamford (Rodrigo, 62 ’)
Goals: 1-0, Salah, from a penalty (4 ‘); 1-1, Harrison (12 ‘); 2-1, Van Dijk (20 ‘); 2-2, Bamford (30 ‘); 3-2, Salah (33 ‘); 3-3, Klich (66 ‘); 4-3, Salah, from a penalty (88 ‘)
Referee: Michael Oliver. Yellow card: Firmino (76 ‘).
Incidents: Game behind closed doors at Anfield, corresponding to the first day of the Premier 2020-21