Liverpool fell to their first Premier League defeat at Anfield since March 2021 on Saturday night as Leeds United moved out of the relegation zone with a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory.
The opening exchanges of the contest were dominated by errors. Leeds escaped a glaring breakdown in communication between captain Liam Cooper and goalkeeper Illan Meslier moments before Liverpool proved less fortunate.
Joe Gomez played a blind pass towards Alisson. Just like his manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of kick-off, Liverpool‘s keeper lost his footing, watching on in agony as Rodrigo gleefully accepted the gift of an open goal.
Mohamed Salah only needed ten minutes to fire Liverpool level. Lining up in a narrow diamond formation, a lot of the creative burden fell upon Liverpool’s full-backs. Andy Robertson collected Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross at the back post, arcing the ball over Fabinho but into Salah’s stride.
Despite their lowly standing of 18th at kick-off, Klopp warned that Leeds have “caused everybody massive problems” this season. Liverpool were no exception.
The visitors surged forward at will, committing their front four to a coordinated high press and bolstering that quartet with more white shirts when they retrieved possession. The crossbar was still vibrating from Brenden Aaronson’s close-range volley when Jack Harrison forced an excellent save from a smothering Alisson.
On Leeds’ last away trip, the travelling support defiantly sang the name of their former manager, Marcelo Bielsa, as the soundtrack of a limp defeat. Nine days on, the Yorkshire contingent drowned out a nervy Anfield for large swathes.
Yet, in their bid to unsettle the hosts, Leeds left the back door open, conspiring to concoct an enthralling, end-to-end contest.
The blistering tempo of the first half cooled after the break but the jab-jab, thrust-thrust rhythm persisted as both sides crafted a raft of chances. Meslier came out on top in two one-on-ones with Darwin Nunez on either side of the interval. The young French number one rebuffed Liverpool from all angles, tipping away Roberto Firmino’s close-range header amid a myriad of stops.
Just as the game threatened to meander to a draw, Crysencio Summerville struck a killer blow which may have saved his manager from the axe. Wilfried Gnonto came off the bench to fire the ball into the box. His fellow substitute Patrick Bamford snuck ahead of the dozing duo of Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara, setting Summerville up for a poke past Alisson in the 89th minute.
GK: Alisson – 6/10 – Played his role in the calamitous opener but swiftly recovered to make a customary glut of crucial stops.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6/10 – Rediscovered the surgical incision of his passing game, though the frequency of his slicing passes faded as the match wore on.
CB: Joe Gomez – 5/10 – Produced a commanding tackle seconds before setting Rodrigo up for the opener in a snapshot of a display of extremes.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – 5/10 – Fell to his first Premier League defeat at Anfield since joining Liverpool as he was caught dozing at the death.
LB: Andy Robertson – 7/10 – Given the freedom of the left flank to steam up and down the touchline.
CM: Harvey Elliott – 4/10 – Failed to exert a lasting impact on proceedings before he was removed within an hour.
CM: Fabinho – 2/10 – A shadow of his former self, watching on like an uninterested bystander as Leeds charged forward, barely bothering to get out of the Brazilian’s way.
CM: Thiago Alcantara – 5/10 – Peppered his performance with some silky cameos but was erratic with his adventurous passing attempts.
AM: Roberto Firmino – 7/10 – Floating menacingly between the lines, knitting together Liverpool’s play in the final third with a flurry of flicks and feints.
ST: Mohamed Salah – 6/10 – Reacted sharply to hook his equaliser over the line but wasn’t at his clinical best for much of the match.
ST: Darwin Nunez – 5/10 – Offered an option bursting into the ample space behind by the stretched opposition but lacked composure in front of goal.
SUB: Curtis Jones (60′ for Elliott) – 7/10 – Injected some thrust and urgency into Liverpool’s midfield.
SUB: Jordan Henderson (60′ for Fabinho) – 5/10
SUB: James Milner (79′ for Alexander-Arnold) – N/A
Manager: Jurgen Klopp – 4/10 – Looked a little shell-shocked at his side’s start, going to bark instructions but no words came out. Recovered his voice to send on Jones and tweak the width of Liverpool’s attack after the break but with little lasting effect.
GK: Illan Meslier – 8/10 – Rapidly off his line to twice smother Nunez, bailing out his captain the second time in a busy but brilliant evening.
RB: Rasmus Kristensen – 6/10 – Struggled against Robertson in his own half but tested the left-back going the other way.
CB: Robin Koch – 5/10 – Took a front-foot approach to deal with Nunez, who still managed to get away from him regularly.
CB: Liam Cooper – 3/10 – Escaped two blunders on either side of half-time in a fortuitous individual display.
LB: Pascal Struijk – 5/10 – Held a more restrained position than his opposite full-back.
CM: Tyler Adams – 7/10 – A pest – in the best possible way – in midfield, buzzing around off the ball and shovelling it forward in possession.
CM: Marc Roca – 6/10 – Kept his passing simple, spending more time scurrying after the ball than stroking it around the pitch.
AM: Brenden Aaronson – 7/10 – A painful thorn in Liverpool’s side, buzzing between the cracks of a side lacking confidence.
RW: Jack Harrison – 6/10 – Uncompromisingly direct as he drove forward at any given opportunity.
ST: Rodrigo – 6/10 – The Spaniard has been guilty of teeing up opponents with wayward passes but benefitted from one for once.
LW: Crysencio Summerville – 6/10 – Skirted around the fringes of the contest before popping up with a crucial prod.
SUB: Patrick Bamford (52′ for Rodrigo) – 5/10 – A poor first touch let a Leeds breakaway rapidly fizzle out, squandering a fleeting sight of goal.
SUB: Wilfried Gnonto (72′ for Harrison) – 6/10
SUB: Luke Ayling (90′ for Summervilla) – N/A
Manager: Jesse Marsch – 7/10 – Leeds emphatically did not adhere to Marsch’s instructions for a “disciplined and compact” display. His side was porous but hardly poor, going toe-to-toe with the Reds all game.