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Leeds United 1-1 Liverpool: 5 talking points as Diego Llorente scores equalizer to deny Reds a top-four place | Premier League 2020-21

Liverpool and Leeds United played a 1-1 draw on Monday night
Liverpool and Leeds United played a 1-1 draw on Monday night
Ume Elvis
ANALYST
Modified 20 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

Goals from Sadio Mane and Diego Llorente ensured that Liverpool and Leeds United shared the spoils in a thrilling 1-1 draw on Monday.

The game was played on the backdrop of the announcement of the new European Super League as well as the ensuing threats and counter-threats.

Nevertheless, both sides put aside off-field politics and gave a classic performance far removed from your typical Monday Night Football.

The big news in the buildup to the game was Mo Salah's exclusion from the starting lineup. Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota were charged to lead the Liverpool line in his absence.

The hosts came into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Manchester City despite playing over half of the game with 10 men. They would have been looking to register another scalp against one of the renegade teams in the Premier League.

A bright start to the game saw both sides fashion good chances, with Thiago Alcantara and Patrick Bamford both going close.

Liverpool were, however, the better side and deservedly went ahead through Sadio Mane.

A precise long ball into the area by Jota saw Illan Meslier hesitate to collect. Trent-Alexander Arnold beat the Leeds goalkeeper to the ball and sent a precise dink for Mane to tap into an empty net.

The second half continued in the same fashion, with end-to-end action from both sides.

Roberto Firmino went close for Liverpool before Jack Harrison and Helder Costa almost drew the hosts level.

Leeds United grew into the game and pinned Liverpool back, with the visitors having their goalkeeper Alisson to thank for keeping them ahead.

On the one occasion that the Brazilian was beaten, the bar came to his rescue after he was left stranded by Bamford's precise lob.

There were loud shouts for a penalty from the hosts when a ball in the area struck the outstretched arm of Alexander Arnold, but VAR Mike Dean saw nothing untoward after a review.

Jurgen Klopp responded to the growing threat by bringing on Mo Salah and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain.

Despite the two substitutes both going close, it was Leeds United who scored the crucial second goal in the game.

Diego Llorente rose highest to head home a corner from Jack Harrison for his first goal for the club. This saw Leeds United draw level and also brought a first smile of the night to Marcelo Bielsa's face.

On the overall balance of play, a draw was probably the right result, although the hosts are well within their right to claim that they were the better side.

Up next for Liverpool will be the visit of Newcastle United. Leeds United's dates with the top six continue when they host Manchester United.

Here are five talking points from the game.

#5 Liverpool falter in their top-four race

Liverpool no longer have their destiny in their hands for a top-four finish
Liverpool no longer have their destiny in their hands for a top-four finish

Liverpool came into the game three points behind 4th-placed West Ham, and a win at Elland Road would have taken the Reds into the top four.

The defending champions have been in disastrous form throughout the year, but a run of three consecutive victories has put them back in the running to secure UEFA Champions League qualification.

Of course, the proposed Super League would render every permutation moot, but until plans are finalized, the show must go on domestically.

When Sadio Mane put the visitors ahead, it seemed like Jurgen Klopp's side were on their way to getting the job done.

However, a resolute Leeds had other ideas and gave an inspired performance to snatch a point at the death.

The draw leaves Liverpool two points behind the top four and with just six matches to go, their chances of securing Champions League qualification hangs by a thread.

#4 Exciting game encapsulates why there is a lot of backlash against the proposed Super League

Leeds United gave as good as they got against Liverpool
Leeds United gave as good as they got against Liverpool

The European Super League has always been in the pipeline, and it was its threat that birthed the revamped format of the UEFA Champions League in 1992.

However, since then, the biggest clubs have only grown richer and continuously needed assurances of their best interests being protected.

It was in light of this that 12 of the biggest European clubs, including Liverpool, announced the renegade European Super League on Sunday.

Criticisms for the proposed format have been swift, with the major grouse being the closed nature of the league.

This does not give room for consequences of failure, while the fairytale stories that have characterized the soul of football in the last century would also be lost.

If anybody needed an indicator as to why football needs underdogs, this clash between Leeds United and Liverpool served as a stark reminder.

Here were two clubs, as distinct in pedigree as they are in ambitions, yet going toe-to-toe with one another.

Leeds United were only promoted to the top-flight after a 16-year absence last season. Liverpool have been ever-present in all seasons of the Premier League and are current defending champions.

You would, however, not have been able to differentiate between the defending champions and the newly-promoted side.

In what was a truly classic display, Leeds United encapsulated everything that has made them so watchable this season and pushed Liverpool to the limit.

In many ways, a draw flattered the Anfield giants. On another day, Marcelo Biesla's side might well have taken all three points.

Juxtapose this with the fact that the West Yorkshire club defeated the champions-in-waiting last week, despite playing most of the second half with 10 men, and you realize that the beauty of football is in its relative unpredictability.

Of even greater significance is that Liverpool could potentially pay the price for failing to get the job done by not qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

This would not be the case in the proposed Super League where mediocrity would be rewarded with guaranteed performance and hefty payments. This is far from what made football such a universally acclaimed sport, and Leeds United reminded us of that.

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Published 20 Apr 2021
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