Leeds United put in a gutsy performance at Anfield on the opening day of the season, but it wasn’t enough to secure a point against Liverpool, with the Whites losing 4-3 to a late penalty.
Leeds came from behind three times, only for debutante Rodrigo to give away a late penalty, which Mohammed Salah duly dispatched, sending Marcelo Bielsa’s side back to Elland Road empty handed.
Leeds gave as good as they got in the first half, with Jack Harrison scoring a magnificent equaliser just eight minutes after a Salah penalty gave the hosts the lead.
The next two equalisers came from Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich, who brought Leeds back to 2-2, then 3-3 respectively.
Leeds looked as if they would hang on for a historic point on their return to the top flight, but with just a few minutes to go, new signing Rodrigo, on off the bench, clattered into Fabinho inside the box, and Salah completed his hat-trick from the resulting penalty.
The result was harsh on Leeds who put in an excellent performance against the Champions, but it will serve as a fitting welcome back to the Premier League, and will illustrate the size of the task facing Bielsa and his squad.
Here are our MOT Leeds News ratings from the 4-3 defeat…
Illan Meslier – 7
A pretty impressive Premier League debut for Meslier. He made some vital saves (the pick of the bunch saving an own goal from Pascal Struijk) and kept Leeds in the game at points, but could perhaps have done better for Virgil Van Dijk’s goal. While Meslier couldn’t have done anything to stop any of Mohammed Salah’s goals, he was part of a defence that conceded four goals but his distribution was brilliant.
Luke Ayling – 7
Luke Ayling was brilliant, and if the match had ended in a draw he would probably have a higher rating here. The stand-in captain was positive running at Andy Robertson on the Leeds right-hand side, and looked comfortable up against arguably the best attack in the world. But again, the defence conceded four goals, and it is hard to give him higher than a 7.
Robin Koch – 4
Koch, 24, made his Leeds debut against Liverpool and it took him four minutes to handle in the box and give away a penalty. You could argue it was a harsh decision, but you could also argue his arm should be behind his back in that position. He was also very weak in not following Van Dijk, as the Dutchman escaped Koch’s marking and headed Liverpool into the league. He needs to be quicker and stronger if he wants to survive in the Premier League but we’re not going to condemn him on his first outing for Leeds.
Pascal Struijk – 5
Not a great night for the other Leeds centre back but considering the opposition, he did okay. In our opinion directly responsible for Liverpool’s third goal. A weak header gave the ball straight to Salah who lashed home his second of the night. A more experienced defender would head the ball back where it came from and away from danger. That experience will come in time, but adjusting to Premier League football looks to be a steep learning curve for the young defender.
Stuart Dallas – 6
Stuart Dallas made more tackles in the first half than the entire Liverpool team [LUFCDATA], bringing his trademark aggressive style of football to the Premier League. Despite that incredible stat, Dallas never looked completely comfortable at left-back, which has really highlighted the need for a new defender at Elland Road.
Kalvin Phillips – 7
Any England fans watching this game will have seen an unrecognisable Kalvin Phillips compared to the one they saw play against Denmark last week. Phillips, playing in his natural position, took to the Premier League like a duck to water. He managed to get himself an assist, playing in Jack Harrison in the first half, and nearly scored a sensational free-kick late on, solid performance.
Mateusz Klich – 8
Leeds scored two quality goals in tonight’s game and Klich’s was arguably the best. Taking the ball that was fired at him by Helder Costa and turning to lash it home from the middle of the box was nothing short of sensational, the kind of goal worth waiting 16 years for. Klich was also solid in midfield and was constantly busy linking the attack and defence, great start for the midfielder. The midfield colossus was our man of the match.
Pablo Hernandez – 5
A fairly underwhelming show from the Leeds talisman, a few nice passes here and there but nothing major to report, he struggled to make attacking inroads against Liverpool’s defence. Maybe some adjustment to the top flight will improve his performances going forward.
Jack Harrison – 7
Harrison scored Leeds’ first Premier League goal in 16 years when he held off Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez to fire past a helpless Allison at the Kop end. Harrison didn’t look at all out of place in the Premier League, and if he can score more goals like his first this season, he will be real asset to Marcelo Bielsa.
Helder Costa – 7
Costa got an assist in his first game as a permanent Leeds player, passing the ball to Klich before his teammate turned and finished. Costa created plenty on the wings for Leeds all night, and got the better of his marker on a few occasions. He showed signs of promise going forward and didn’t look out of place against Liverpool.
Patrick Bamford – 7
Bamford repaid the faith shown in him by his manager after he brought Leeds back to 2-2 in the first half. Bamford was preferred over new boy Rodrigo and pounced on a mistake from Van Dijk to bring Leeds level. Hopefully, this is how Bamford means to go on in the top flight.
Rodrigo – 3
Where to begin… He had half an hour to impress after he was subbed on, and the only impact he had was giving away a penalty which lost Leeds the game. The worst possible start to his Leeds career, although he was stranded with Liverpool pushing hard towards the end. The only positive is that it’s surely all uphill from here.
Tyler Roberts – 5
Roberts also had half an hour to impress but had little impact on the game. He struggled to assert himself and any meaningful way. His advances were easily dealt with by Liverpool but it’s hard to see what else he could have done.
Jamie Shackleton – N/A
In other Leeds United news, ‘Phenomenal’, ‘Unbelievable’ – Many Leeds fans blown away by ‘unreal’ talent v Liverpool