Mohamed Salah and Fabinho starred as Liverpool beat Leeds United 3-0 at Elland Road on Sunday to go level on points with Manchester United and Chelsea.
In what was an intense game from the opening stages to the final, Leeds United took the game to their visitors and ought to have been ahead in the opening quarter of an hour, only to be undone by a poor finish by Rodrigo Moreno. Liverpool, though, did not need a second invitation to get on the scoresheet, as Mohamed Salah scored from close range after being set up by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool kept on probing for further for the second goal while Leeds threatened on the break. The Reds, though, doubled their advantage early in the second half, with Fabinho scoring from a set-piece. The match was then marred by an unfortunate incident, as a poor challenge by Pascal Struijk handed Harvey Elliott an ankle injury, with the Leeds defender being sent off.
With Liverpool a man up, they were in total control of the game for the most part and deservedly got their third in the game through Sadio Mane, with Thiago Alcantara getting the assist. The result means Liverpool are level on points with leaders Manchester United and Chelsea. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sets of players.
Illan Meslier: 6/10
Unfortunate to have conceded three goals, and he could not have done much to keep out any of the three efforts. However, Meslier was the reason the scoreline was not more embarrassing, although quite a few of his saves were regulation stops as well. Nevertheless, the Frenchman was one of the better performers for Leeds.
Luke Ayling: 6/10
In what was a difficult outing for Ayling, he did well to go toe-to-toe with Sadio Mane, who engaged in an intriguing duel with the Leeds right-back. Ayling indeed completed five blocks, three tackles and an interception, although he did not get a chance to make an impact further up the pitch.
Diego Llorente: 6/10
A frustrating evening for Llorente, who only last thirty minutes in the game before being taken off for an injury. Before then, he was tormented a little by Mane, although the Spaniard was largely on his toes to keep the danger out.
Liam Cooper: 5/10
A game to forget for Cooper, who just could not manage to keep the Liverpool backline organised, which constantly gave the Liverpool attack the impetus they needed to create the openings. Failed to track Salah for the opener and was generally poor despite making several clearances and blocks.
Junior Firpo: 4/10
Junior Firpo has been brought to Leeds to be a solution in the left-back slot. So far, though, the ex-Barcelona defender is proving to be anything but, with his struggles continuing further against a rampant Mohamed Salah. Made no impact whatsoever charging forward either, and is really in need of some inspiration right now.
Kalvin Phillips: 6/10
Phillips was one of the better performers in the game for Leeds, although he, too, struggled to keep a check on the likes of Harvey Elliott and Thiago Alcantara. Where he did excel, though, was when he looked to link up with those in front of him, as he completed nearly 90 percent of his passes while also winning five duels. Decent enough.
As is often the case, Raphinha was a bundle of energy in the final third and constantly looked to make things happen. While it did not really come off for him on the day, the Brazilian attacker did pose a threat with his movement while playing as many as three key passes. Put in the hard yards off the ball as well.
Rodrigo Moreno: 5/10
A poor display by Rodrigo, who had a golden opportunity to hand Leeds the lead early in the first half only for him to shoot straight at Alisson Becker. Did not get into a scoring position again in the game, which further accentuates why he needed to convert the early chance.
Stuart Dallas: 5/10
Back in midfield, Dallas struggled higher up the pitch, as he was never really afforded any time and space by Fabinho in the final third. In addition, his passing was ridiculously poor, as he could only complete 69 percent of his attempted passes. Has to improve.
Jack Harrison: 5/10
Like Raphinha, Harrison created a fair few chances but never really looked like he was going to pounce on Alexander-Arnold’s position up the pitch. Having said that, he was largely precise on the ball, misplacing just three passes. Needs to be more trigger friendly in the final third.
Patrick Bamford: 6/10
A frustrating evening for Bamford, who was denied twice by Alisson Becker while also being left isolated at times. More impressively, the English international hardly lost the ball, misplacing just one pass all game. Needed better support from teammates.
Pascal Struijk: 5/10
"I regret dearly that the opponent's player had to leave the game and I'm 100 per cent sure that Pascal [Struijk] did not have a bad intention"
Marcelo Bielsa gives his post-match thoughts after Leeds' 3-0 loss to Liverpool pic.twitter.com/Q0LaYWTSzV
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 12, 2021
Just like the player he replaced, Struijk lasted in the game for just around half an hour after being sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Harvey Elliott, who has sustained a heavy injury in his ankle.
Tyler Roberts: 6/10
A lively presence on the pitch for Leeds after replacing Moreno. However, he did not really get any opportunities to express himself in the final third as much as he would have liked.
Daniel James: 6/10
On for Harrison, Jamed made his Leeds debut and carried a little threat late on, although it did not really matter, as Liverpool grabbed the 3-0 win.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
A fantastic performance by Alisson, who made four saves to preserve his clean sheet. And as ever, the Brazilian goalkeeper showed a lot of composure when playing out from the back, completing 92 percent of his attempted passes.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold has now provided more Premier League assists (35) than Cristiano Ronaldo (34). ? pic.twitter.com/61gOxQvytj
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 12, 2021
Alexander-Arnold has started the 2021/22 season in style and on Sunday, the young full-back was yet again on song. The English international was relentless in his pursuit to create the goalscoring opportunities, and he did grab an assist for the goal that Salah scored. Could have had more assists on another day.
Joel Matip: 7/10
Matip continues to vindicate Jurgen Klopp’s decision to start him ahead of Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate. In what was another top notch performance, the experienced defender did not put a foot wrong, winning each of his duels while completing a couple of clearances. Efficient in playing out from the back and was even involved in the goal Salah scored.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
This was a game in which van Dijk had a few hairy moments on the pitch, although his recovery helped him snuff out the danger efficiently. Made four clearances while winning three duels. Completed 93 percent of his attempted passes, although that is not really a surprise from the Dutch defender.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Kostas Tsimikas has been nothing short of remarkable, but Andrew Robertson is back now after regaining fitness. Having said that, the Scottish international was not as rampant in the final third and did not set up as many opportunities that he can on his best day. Still, appears to getting back to his best.
Harvey Elliott: 7/10
"We will wait for him"
A visibly emotional Jurgen Klopp hopes Harvey Elliott will recover from his serious injury as quickly as possible ❤️ pic.twitter.com/uh7B8vs9W1
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 12, 2021
Handed a third successive start, this was another game wherein Elliott impressed a great deal. The teenage prodigy was intent on making his mark on the game and even had a couple of shots saved by Meslier while playing a key pass. However, his game ended in gruesome manner as sustained an ankle injury following a heavy collision with Struijk. Will hope to be back stronger.
Fabinho was as Fabinho usually is on his best days. While he was not as efficient when recycling possession as he is on most days, the Brazilian played a major role in disrupting Leeds and their ideas and moves during the defensive phases. And to cap off a solid display, he even found the back of the net from close range. Job well done.
Thiago Alcantara: 8/10
After a difficult maiden campaign at Liverpool, Thiago has been looking increasingly determined to make up for lost time and this was one of his best performances yet for the Reds. The Spanish international controlled the proceedings with elan while also setting Sadio Mane up for the third goal his side scored. Getting back to his topmost levels.
Mohamed Salah: 9/10
1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ PREMIER LEAGUE GOALS.
MO SALAH ? pic.twitter.com/ZEbBdlGeHz
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 12, 2021
A brilliant display by Salah and one in which he could have been on the scoresheet at least one more time while also grabbing a couple of assists. Played four key passes while also missing a shot from close range. However, he did find the back of the net once, getting Liverpool rolling with a fine finish from inside the Leeds box. Has started the season strongly.
Diogo Jota: 8/10
With Roberto Firmino unavailable, Jota got the chance to make an impression again. While he did not get a goal this time around, the Portuguese international was still a thorn on Leeds’ side, as he was here, there and everywhere while playing a game-high six key passes. Has grown into his role at Liverpool so well.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
A frustrating evening for the most part ended on a memorable note for Mane. The Senegalese forward did trouble the Leeds defenders a lot but seemed to have left his finishing boots at home, missing numerous chances, mostly from close range. However, he did manage to finally find the back of the net late on with a brilliant turn and finish. Will hope to become more clinical going forward.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 12, 2021
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
On for the injured Elliott, Henderson was tidy in possession while even setting up a chance late on. Completed each of his attempted long passes while evening winning a duel.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: N/A
On for Jota, Oxlade-Chamberlain showed why he is now a peripheral figure, as he spurned a couple of promising opportunities.
Naby Keita: N/A
A late introduction, Keita helped see the game out.