Salah nets hat-trick as Liverpool beat Leeds in seven-goal thriller

A Mohamed Salah hat-trick ensured Liverpool got their Premier League title defence off to a winning start in an exhilarating contest with Leeds United.

On three separate occasions the champions were pegged back by their effervescent opponents, but each time they found a way to restore the lead.

And, while Jurgen Klopp will not be happy with several facets of his team’s performance, the spirit that has brought four trophies to Anfield over the last two seasons was fully on show.

Marcelo Bielsa, meanwhile, will reflect on an encouraging showing from his team on their return to the top-flight.

Throughout the build-up to the new campaign, Klopp had called for his players to “attack” what would typically be described as a title defence.

And the Reds delivered, penning Leeds in from the first whistle before winning a penalty when Robin Koch handled Salah’s shot, allowing the Egyptian to convert emphatically from 12 yards.

Rather than dent their confidence, though, the early blow of conceding only seemed to free the visitors of any nerves, encouraging them to play with trademark aggression.

Just moments after Helder Costa had a goal ruled out for offside and Pablo Hernandez had almost teed up Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison netted a deserved equaliser in memorable fashion.

Controlling a cross-field pass to the left first time, the Englishman drove inside past both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez before dispatching a low shot into the near side of the net.

Liverpool’s response was swift, Virgil van Dijk heading in from a corner despite goalkeeper Illan Meslier getting his body behind the attempt.

But again Leeds fought back, a poor attempted clearance from Van Dijk resulting in him feeding Patrick Bamford to force the ball beyond Alisson Becker.

And so the champions were forced to strike again, with Salah grabbing his second with a powerful finish after the ball dropped into his path at the back post from a corner.

The Reds missed a series of golden opportunities to severely dent the visitors’ resistance either side of the break, well-worked counters ending without the deserved finish.

And, as is so often the case in football, that profligacy was eventually punished with an opposition goal.

With just over an hour gone, Mateusz Klich produced a fine control and finish from a bouncing cross to register the sixth goal of a thrilling game.

Inevitably, the chances didn’t stop there, and Liverpool thought they had got their noses in front when Van Dijk smashed home from a corner only for a foul from substitute Curtis Jones to see it become the fourth disallowed goal of the game.

But the champions wouldn’t be denied, and as they piled the pressure on the Leeds box late on, substitute Rodrigo dangled out a lazy leg to catch Fabinho and give away a penalty.

Salah did the rest, capping an unforgettable season opener with a treble that guaranteed all three points for the reigning champions

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