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06/04/2023
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Stellar Salah performance keeps Liverpool top-four hopes alive

Liverpool kept their top four hopes alive on Monday night as they enjoyed a convincing 6-1 win over Leeds United at Elland Road.

A slow opening 30 minutes saw the visitors lack sharpness in their approach, but a mistake from Junior Firpo in the 35th minute allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to win back possession before assisting Cody Gakpo after a one-two with Mohamed Salah.

That goal seemed to spark the game into life, and It took a matter of minutes before Javi Gracia’s side found themselves 2-0 down. This time turning over possession in Liverpool’s half after pressure from Diogo Jota, who showed composure before playing through Salah to finish past Illan Meslier.

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A mistake from Ibrahima Konate allowed Leeds back into the game after the restart as Luis Sinisterra pickpocketed him before finishing with class past Alisson, only to see his efforts in vain after Liverpool restored their two-goal advantage when Curtis Jones delivered a precise pass for Diogo Jota to finish.

If Mohamed Salah didn’t put the game beyond doubt with his second of the match, Jota certainly did as he was left completely unmarked to hit a first time strike past the goalkeeper that was helped in by the post. Substitute Darwin Nunez added further misery after timing his run behind the defensive line perfectly before finishing on his left foot.

Positives

Liverpool’s new approach away from home saw them patient with their play with a focus that looked to control possession rather than force openings. They looked dangerous when on the break, and were clinical in front of goal with their chances.

The return of Luis Diaz will also be vital as they look to make a late push for the top four, with the Colombia international substituted on in the 82nd minute.

Negatives

Ibrahima Konate’s error was a moment that needs to be avoided in future games. While the Reds were able to restore their dominance, better opposition could have punished them.

Manager rating (1-10; 10 = best)

Jurgen Klopp, 7 — Liverpool continued their strong finish to their Premier League match last week against Arsenal, and Klopp got his team selection right as his side took charge of the game from the first minute. His system ensured that Leeds were punished when giving away the ball in advanced areas.

Player ratings (players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 6 — Alisson wasn’t troubled too much across the game, with a first-half header from Rodrigo Leeds’ best effort of the first half. Couldn’t do much against Luis Sinisterra who had the advantage after taking the ball off Konate.

DF Andy Robertson, 6 — Punished Robin Koch with an excellent touch to beat him before playing it back to Cody Gakpo, who assisted Liverpool’s fourth to put the game beyond reach.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 The centre-back was decisive with his decision-making, and quick to track back in moments where Leeds were threatening to play a direct ball in behind. Didn’t need to get out of second gear after a disappointing Leeds performance.

DF Ibrahima Konate, 5 The France international was assured across the game outside of one ridiculous error that provided Leeds with a ticket back into the game when dispossessed by Luis Sinisterra.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 — Jurgen Klopp’s system allowed Alexander-Arnold to take up a mix of positions as he looked to dictate play from the centre during transitions, but it was when he was in familiar territory on the right flank when he won back possession by blocking Junior Firpo’s clearance before assisting Cody Gakpo for the opening goal.

MF Fabinho, 6 — Quick to snuff out the danger and made it difficult for Leeds to have success in central areas. Could have closed down Brenden Aaronson earlier at a moment in the second half where the USMNT star was close with a long-range effort, but otherwise a positive game from Fabinho.

MF Curtis Jones, 7 — He was calm under pressure and kept the play ticking from midfield while taking care of the ball. He was able to express himself more once Liverpool had secured the lead, with an excellently timed pass that found Diogo Jota to restore the Reds’ two goal lead.

MF Jordan Henderson, 7 — Got forward to link up with Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold, and impressed with some of his forward passes into promising areas. Worked hard as usual when getting back to prevent counter-attacks.

FW Diogo Jota, 8 — It was quite the turnaround for Diogo Jota who started the game in fairly careless fashion with some of his link-up play, though he soon showed all of his class with two clinical finishes and an assist for Mohamed Salah’s first after winning the ball back in his own half.

MF Cody Gakpo, 8 — Had little space to work with at times but kept working, and eventually got his reward when supplied by Trent Alexander-Arnold for a tap-in past Illan Meslier. The Netherlands international then turned provider as he played in Salah to score Liverpool’s fourth.

FW Mohamed Salah, 8 — Salah showed patience after he was kept quiet for the opening half hour, but space began to open up after Liverpool scored the opener, with Salah dispatching his effort emphatically to double the lead just moments after the deadlock was broken. A cool left-footed finish saw him bend the ball past Meslier to complete his brace.

Substitutes

Luis Diaz (Gakpo, 82″) N/R — A standing ovation for Luis Diaz who returns to action after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Darwin Nunez (Gakpo, 82″) N/R — A well-timed run and touch saw Nunez get onto the scoresheet with a left-footed finish past the goalkeeper.

Roberto Firmino (Jota, 82″) N/R — Introduced for Diogo Jota in the 82nd minute.

James Milner (Henderson, 82″) N/R — A return to his former club for James Milner, who adds another Premier League appearance to his growing tally.

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