The boys of the disco and rock music era almost forgot the day when Liverpool last opened the season as the champions at their own backyard. They witnessed the world change, but Liverpool’s miseries remained unchanged until the Reds decided to pull their socks up under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp. They returned to Anfield as the champions of the Premier League and discovered themselves in a thrilling encounter.
⚽ 04' Liverpool 1-0 Leeds
⚽ 12’ Liverpool 1-1 Leeds
⚽ 20’ Liverpool 2-1 Leeds
⚽ 30’ Liverpool 2-2 Leeds
⚽ 33’ Liverpool 3-2 Leeds
A crazy first half & more came in second when Leeds equalized but Salah bagged the hat-trick and the champions escape the Leeds scare. pic.twitter.com/c2baH9SPkj
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) September 12, 2020
The game still had not gained the momentum and from nowhere dramatic nowhere twists and turn showed up.
Leeds, making their Premier League appearance after 5964 days – barely touched the ball in the opening exchanges found themselves behind in just 4 minutes.
Controversially so too, as the handball for which referee Michael Oliver awarded the first penalty could have been overturned under the new interpretation of the rule. Robin Koch clearly had his arm outside the “body line” when Mohamed Salah’s shot struck him but the ball was deflected up onto his arm off his thigh.
Oliver thought otherwise, and Salah slammed the ball from the penalty spot down the middle of Illan Meslier’s goal.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United reacted fast and impressively – took the game to Liverpool and were back on level terms thanks to an excellent finish from Jack Harrison.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 12, 2020
Kalvin Phillips essayed a delightful pass out to Harrison on the left, who cut inside Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez too easily before beating Alisson from the edge of the area.
The game was not needed to gain any momentum, but automatically it burst into life.
The show had begun!
Sadio Mane executed a brilliant chip over Meslier from 35 yards only for an offside decision against Andy Robertson to cancel out the effort. A few moments later Robertson swept a corner into the Leeds area and the big Virgil van Dijk, restored the lead.
Immediately Van Dijk became the villain!
Van Dijk who was attempting to flick Stuart Dallas’s searching-ball out to his left-back, succeeded in finding the Leeds striker – Patrick Bamford, who did not repeat the mistake made earlier and lifted a first time finish over the exposed Alisson.
Since the start of the 2018-19 season, only three Premier League players from the top 6 clubs have made three errors leading to opposition goals: David Luiz, Danny Rose, and yes, Virgil van Dijk!
⚽️ “Van Dijk has presented it to Bamford…” As we wait for the second half, check out our second goal of the game pic.twitter.com/vbXGG69fk1
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 12, 2020
It was 2-2!
Pascal Struijk headed a Robertson free-kick back into dangerous territory inside his own area where Salah drove a thunderous shot into Meslier’s top left-hand corner – BANG!
Liverpool 3 Leeds United 2!
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 12, 2020
5 goals were scored in just 33 minutes and the first half ended with the Reds taking the upper-hand, but more drama to come in the second.
Liverpool poured into the Leeds backline to crush them – Meslier saved well from Georginio Wijnaldum, Van Dijk headed over from an Alexander-Arnold corner and Mane was badly off target when released by Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool lost possession from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s throw-in and Leeds grabbed the opportunity. Mateusz Klich swept play out to Helder Costa and darted into the area where the return pass arrived perfectly.
Klich’s control was pristine, his first time finish even better, and Alisson had no chance against the volley.
It was 3-3!
But at Anfield, Liverpool just can’t lose!
Rodrigo came to Leeds United from Valencia and started at Anfield for his prowess in the opposition penalty area. Rather, he invited calamity – felling Fabinho with a needless lunge after the Leeds defence had repelled another Liverpool attack and inviting Salah to beat goalkeeper Meslier from the spot for a second time.
Mohamed Salah for Liverpool against Leeds:
◉ Most touches (87)
◉ Most completed passes in final third (35)
◉ Most shots (9)
◉ Most take-ons completed (7)
◉ Most chances created (4)
◉ Most shots on target (3)
◉ Most goals (3)
Mind-blowing numbers. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/yOzsa3sidT
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 12, 2020
A hat-trick for Salal, who has now scored three Premier League hat-tricks, Yakubu is the only African player in the competition’s history with 4!
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah celebrated with a new way (touch his ears) after he scored his third goal today and paid tribute to his friend Moamen Zakaria who suffering incurable ALS and stopped him from playing football.
Thank you, Salah. pic.twitter.com/Nz4ba9gBaD
— Tarek Talaat طارق طلعت (@tarektal3at) September 12, 2020
In 2016, Mohamed Salah scored for Roma against Udinese. In 2017, Mohamed Salah scored for Liverpool against Watford. In 2018 Mohamed Salah scored for Liverpool against West Ham. In 2019 Mohamed Salah scored for Liverpool against Norwich.
Again, Salah is the first Liverpool player to score a hat-trick on Match Day 1 of a league season since John Aldridge against Charlton in 1988-89.
Liverpool bag full points, but nevertheless, Bielsa’s side deserves the accolades. They had been a fearless bunch of wolves, who matched the skill and temperament of the champions leaving Anfield with more possession and a sense that they could have honestly won the game.
Leeds have earned the respect of everyone.