Three things we learned: Leeds - Liverpool
Liverpool scored early and conceded late, drawing 1-1 with Leeds at Elland Road on Monday, as their hopes of finishing in the UEFA Champions League places — a competition in which they might never compete again — took a hit.
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Sadio Mane scored just after the half-hour mark, but the Reds couldn’t hold on quite until the end as Diego Llorente turned home an 87th-minute equalizer to secure a thoroughly deserved point.
The draw sees Liverpool remain 6th in the Premier League table — still two points back of 4th-place West Ham United with the same number of games played. Leeds, meanwhile, remain 10th in their quest for a top-half finish.
3 things we learned: Leeds - Liverpool
1. Liverpool’s defense is totally fine: Despite the fact their three best center backs are all out for the remainder of the 2020-21 season, Liverpool have largely found their way defensively and nearly kept yet another clean sheet on Monday (it would have been four in their last seven Premier League games). Despite losing twice during that period, Liverpool have conceded all of four goals in seven games and haven’t conceded multiple goals in a PL game since mid-February.
2. The scoring of goals… not so much: It’s a good thing Liverpool’s defense has come as far as it has, because the attacking unit is struggling mightily. It’s difficult to pinpoint a singular cause for the Reds’ struggles to create and score chances, but a list of factors and possible explanations reads as follows: defensive injuries dictated Liverpool would have to attack with fewer numbers to not concede three goals every game; Mane and Mohamed Salah are distracted by summer transfer possibilities; Roberto Firmino has fallen off and the whole front-three is suffering as a result; all of the above.
3. Leeds a roaring success in season no. 1: 12 months ago, Leeds were looking Premier League-bound when the entire sports world shut down, yet Marcelo Bielsa’s bunch has managed to remain tight-knit and unbreakable in the top tier, without the support of their passionate fans. For newly promoted side with expectations, Leeds have not only cleared the bar, but raised it for themselves ahead of 2021-22.
Leeds should have opened the scoring in the 24th minute, when Fabinho gave the ball straight to Kalvin Phillips 35 yards from goal. Phillips played Patrick Bamford in behind the Liverpool defense with one touch, but Bamford’s first touch let him down terribly as he watched the ball quickly roll to Alisson.
Liverpool’s goal came just seven minutes later, and Illan Meslier will be wanting a do-over. Diogo Jota sprayed a superb diagonal ball into acres of space for Mohamed Salah to run onto atop Leeds’ penalty area. Meslier came scurrying out and slid in to win the ball, but Salah’s touch came first. He simply played it sideways to the on-rushing Mane for an easy finish into an empty net.
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Bamford went agonizingly close to equalizing in the 75th minute, but again Alisson proved the perfect foil by making a fingertip save of Bamford’s acrobatic looper.
Alisson was massive again, just two minutes later, when he stone-walled Tyler Roberts from point-blank range. Liverpool found themselves increasingly unable to get the ball away from their penalty area as Leeds ramped up the pressure over the final half-hour.
The equalizer, which by the 87th minute felt almost inevitable, came from Jack Harrison’s corner kick. Llorented headed the ball down into the ground as Alisson scrambled and not a single red shirt offered a useful hand inside the penalty area.