Salah the star as Liverpool beat Leeds

Liverpool showed the resolve of title contenders on Sunday with a comprehensive 3-0 win over a lively Leeds United at Elland Road.

The clash of two intense Premier League teams was alive and well in the first 20 minutes with some incredible back-and-forth action, but after Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool the lead, the visitors never looked back with Fabinho putting the game on ice early in the second half prior to a late Sadio Mane strike.

However, the story of the day was the nasty injury suffered by teenage sensation Harvey Elliott, with early reports indicating he sustained a broken leg.

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Positives

Neutral observers love seeing Leeds pour forward with reckless abandon and while it may be fun to watch, it’s simple enough to deal with once a team figures out how to neutralise them. Liverpool picked their moments, kept the ball on the deck and set up camp in the final third with everyone from Salah to Jota and beyond tracking back in what proved to be a real war of attrition.

Negatives

The aerial battle was dominated in the early stages of the match by the home side and while the Reds did manage to get a foothold in proceedings after the first goal, they were continually caught out with looping balls over the top. Marcelo Bielsa’s men also controlled the pace of play in the middle of the park for long spells; if they’d been to maintain that intensity, Liverpool could’ve been in trouble.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — There’s a clear level of trust that Jurgen Klopp has in the squad he’s been able to assemble and from what he had available, he pieced together a strong starting XI that knows how to handle high pressure situations. The German’s composure on the touchline seemed to seep into the output his players produced on Sunday and his patience, if nothing else, should be lauded.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 8 — Didn’t have a whole lot to do outside of a few routine saves, although he was fortunate not to get caught off his line by an
ambitious attempt from Bamford.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 8 — Any concerns about his ability to defend consistently faded into obscurity in favour of a strong attacking display that included an assist for the opener.

DF Joel Matip, 8 — Showcased great hold-up play and strength when marking his man, even finding time to make a cracking run that played a key role in Salah’s goal.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 — His positioning and timing wasn’t up to the level we’re used to seeing, but he still held the fort in a pretty solid way to secure the clean sheet.

DF Andrew Robertson, 7 — Looked anxious in the early exchanges and was caught out of the intended shape on a few occasions, but as was the case for many Reds on Sunday, he grew into the game as it went on.

MF Fabinho, 7 — Was overwhelmed with Leeds’ midfield ferocity in the first half, although very few will remember that thanks to his scuffed finish that doubled Liverpool’s advantage.

MF Thiago, 7 — Tracked back well, switched the ball from side to side and was a real defensive thorn in the side of the boys from Yorkshire.

MF Harvey Elliott, 7 — The youngster’s exuberant performance was overshadowed by a horrific injury that’ll almost certainly bring an end to his season.

FW Mohamed Salah, 8 — Opted to moonlight as a box-to-box midfielder and still managed to get on the scoresheet with an instinctive finish in the 20th minute.

FW Diogo Jota, 7 — Didn’t have a whole lot to do in front of goal, but still played the role of provider fairly capably even if he was a bit hesitant to take shots himself.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 — It seemed like humans would land on Mars before Mane hit the back of the net after missing a slew of big chances. Then, in injury time, he the Senegal forward finally made amends with a cool turn and finish to make it 3-0.

Substitutes

MF Jordan Henderson, TK — The captain helped the Reds regain their grip on the game after the Elliott injury and even managed to test the keeper with a solid effort.

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, TK — Showed a lot of grit in an attempt to make an impact, but failed to make much noise.

MF Naby Keita, N/R — Helped the see out the win with a short cameo before full-time.