Liverpool drop vital points against Leeds

Sports Desk, Apr 19 (EFE).- Liverpool conceded a late equalizer Monday against 10th-place Leeds United, denting the Reds’ hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four.

Sadio Mane’s first goal in 10 matches turned out to be insufficient for the visitors against Marcelo Bielsa’s aggressive Leeds squad, who dominated possession and generated a raft of solid chances in the second half.

Last season’s Premier League champions sparkled in the opening 45 minutes, led by Thiago Alcantara and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The hosts only opportunity of the first half was the result of a a miscue in the 23rd minute by Liverpool defender Fabinho, whose poor pass was intercepted by Kalvin Phillips.

The Leeds midfielder relayed to Patrick Bamford, but Fabinho recovered in time to poke the ball away before the striker could get off a shot.

In the 31st minute, Diogo Jota found Alexander-Arnold in the area and the defender waited for goalkeeper Ilan Meslier to come off his line before passing to Mane for the clear shot into an empty net.

Roberto Firmino forced a stop from Meslier early in the second half before Helder Costa fired over the cross-bar on an opening for Leeds as the match approached the hour mark.

Eight minutes later, Liverpool keeper Alisson had to come off his line to smother an effort by Jack Harrison.

Bamford beat Alisson in the 74th minute only to see the ball bounce off the cross-bar, but the keeper did well to deny Tyler Roberts in the next sequence.

Mohamed Salah would have doubled the advantage for Liverpool with 20 minutes left after a botched clearance by Meslier if not for and only defender Pascal Struijk’s timely block.

United won a corner with three minutes left in regulation. Harrison’s kick reached Diego Llorente in the box and the Spaniard headed-in for the 1-1.

Leeds held on to go level on points with Arsenal at 46, though the Gunners sit one step higher in table by virtue of better goal difference.

The Reds remain sixth with 53 points, 2 fewer than West Ham United in fourth.

Hanging over the contest at Elland Road was the controversy over Sunday’s announcement of the formation of a new European Super League.

Six Premier League sides, including the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool, launched the project in partnership with Spain’s big three – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – and Italian clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Promoters envision a 20-team league with 15 permanent members and five rotating slots to be filled via qualifiers.

The news was greeted with anger and dismay by UEFA, the European domestic leagues, fans and politicians, among others.

Some Liverpool supporters made the trip to Leeds on Monday to express their disapproval, while a plane flew over the stadium trailing a banner with “#SayNoToEuropeanSuperLeague.”

Inside the ground, Leeds players came out for the warmup wearing T-shirts emblazoned on the front with “FOOTBALL IS FOR THE FANS” and on the back with the Champions League logo accompanied by the phrase “EARN IT.”

Asked before the match about comments he made in 2019 rejecting a super league, Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp said he remained opposed to the idea.

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