Salah hits hat-trick as Liverpool outguns impressive Leeds

Mohamed Salah's hat-trick saw Liverpool begin its Premier League title defence with a hard-fought 4-3 win over newly-promoted Leeds United.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah's hat-trick in Saturday's 4-3 win over Leeds United made him the first Liverpool player to score a hat-trick on the opening day of the Premier League.   -  Getty Images

Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick, including two penalties, as Liverpool began its Premier League title defence with a hugely entertaining 4-3 win over promoted Leeds United At Anfield on Saturday.

Salah also became the first Liverpool player to score a hat-trick on the opening day of the Premier League.

Leeds, making its return to the top flight after a 16-year absence, fought back from behind three times and played the brand of intense, attacking football that its Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa established during its promotion campaign last season.

Liveerpool will be concerned with some slack defending but once again did what it has done so well in the past two seasons -- finding a way to win at the end.

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A season beginning with fans still barred from the grounds due to COVID-19 restrictions needed a start to spark some excitement among frustrated fans and this high-energy, incident-packed encounter certainly delivered.

Jurgen Klopp's side grabbed a fourth minute lead after referee Michael Oliver harshly ruled that Leeds' debutant German defender Robin Koch had handled a Salah shot which deflected off his thigh on to his outstretched arm. Salah himself blasted home the spot-kick and Leeds looked as though it may be in for a very long day.

Liverpool

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Virgil Van Dijk after giving Liverpool the early lead.   -  Premier League website

 

But eight minutes later Jack Harrison, on loan from Manchester City, brought Leeds level with a fine solo goal, picking the ball up on the left-flank and cutting inside, skipping past Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, before drilling into the bottom corner.

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But eight minutes later Jack Harrison brought Leeds level with a fine solo goal, picking the ball up on the left-flank and cutting inside, skipping past Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, before drilling into the bottom corner.

Liverpool restored its lead in the 20th minute and this time Leeds had only itself to blame, leaving the obvious threat of Virgil van Dijk unchallenged with the towering Dutchman heading home an Andy Robertson corner.

But Marcelo Bielsa's side, back in the top flight after a 16-year absence, showed its resolve again with Patrick Bamford slotting home after Van Dijk had uncharacteristically failed to deal with a ball over the top, his casual attempt to control the ball finding the Leeds striker with keeper Alisson out of position.

Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford celebrates equalising for Leeds.   -  Twitter @premierleague

 

Salah, sporting a new short hair-cut, blasted Liverpool back in front, 12 minutes before the break, when he pounced on an attempted header clear from Pascal Struijk with a first-time shot which gave Illan Meslier no chance.

Leeds felt for a moment it was level again when, after Harrison's lob over an advancing Alisson, Alexander-Arnold bizarrely headed into his own goal but the linesman subsequently flagged for offside.

But there was to be a third comeback. Helder Costa's low ball into the box found Polish midfielder Mateusz Klich and his deft touch earned him space for a low drive past Alisson to make it 3-3.

Van Dijk had the ball in the net, blasting in from close range after a free kick only for it to be ruled out for a foul by substitute Curtis Jones on Koch.

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But Liverpool secured the points in the 88th minute with another Salah penalty after Rodrigo Moreno clumsily brought down Fabinho.

It was cruel on Leeds but the Yorkshire club will take huge encouragement from its display while Liverpool, now unbeaten in 60 league games at Anfield, is up and running again.

- We have to keep improving, says Salah -

Speaking after the game, Salah said, "It's a good start for us. Leeds are a good team, they played well and the intensity was really high. We did a good job in the end. It's important for me to keep focused on the penalties and score the goals – and get the three points. Leeds are a tough team, they scored three goals against us and that's unusual so we have to keep improving"

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