Sunday, May 9, 2021

Leeds United 1-1 Liverpool: Llorente cancels out Mane strike to delight neutrals

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Apr 2021

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Diego Llorente headed home a late equaliser to give Leeds United a 1-1 draw and check Liverpool’s Champions League qualification hopes – at least insofar as such an ambition can still be understood.

The build-up to Monday’s clash was dominated by fallout from the announcement of a deeply controversial European Super League, of which Liverpool are set to be one of 12 founder members.

Jurgen Klopp restated his opposition to such a project before kick-off and, as Leeds fans protested outside the ground, their players warmed up in shirts demanding Liverpool “earn” a Champions League spot.

Mane’s smart first-half finish did some of the work towards that aim but Spain defender Llorente notched his first Leeds goal three minutes from time to prevent the Reds from edging above West Ham on goal difference.

UEFA being on an apparent war footing against the dissident dozen means the Reds moving into the top four would have been moot development in any case.

Liverpool started on the front foot and Illan Meslier was at full stretch to tip over Thiago Alcantara’s fifth-minute drive.

Kalvin Phillips struggled for his usual rhythm in the Leeds midfield but the England international snaffled a slack Fabinho pass to play in Patrick Bamford, who took a touch that allowed Alisson to dart off his line and save.

The visitors cashed in on that let-off with a sumptuous opener after half an hour.

Diogo Jota picked out Trent Alexander-Arnold raiding forward and the full-back’s volleyed cross was converted clinically by Mane.

Jota headed a corner narrowly over early in the second period and Meslier bravely threw himself towards a James Milner cross with Mane lurking but Leeds increasingly took the game to their opponents.

Klopp’s unease over the course of contest was illustrated by Mohamed Salah being summoned from the bench in the 71st minute – shortly before Bamford crashed a dipping effort against the bar.

Alisson then denied Tyler Roberts at close quarters but, after Salah dragged wide, Liverpool were unable to hang on – Llorente applying the finish to Jack Harrison’s superb corner from the left.

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