Liverpool Edge Out Leeds In Early Game Of The Year Candidate

Mo Salah's hat trick led Liverpool to a narrow victory over newly-promoted Leeds in what is an instant classic.

Ideally, once you take the lead, you never relinquish it. Saturday, though, was everything but ideal for Liverpool and Leeds United, while perfectly idea for the neutral.

In their first time taking the field as the reigning Premier League champions, the Reds had to take the lead four times. Meanwhile, Leeds got to, not had to, showcase to the world why every neutral fan must pay attention to them and why they will remain in the top flight after more than a decade and a half away.

Salah Hat Trick Among The Chaos

Mo Salah scored two penalties against Leeds United in Liverpool win (Photo courtesy of Getty)

The champions came out firing from the opening whistle with Mo Salah converting a penalty within the first five minutes. In the 20th minute, Virgil Van Dijk bullied Robin Koch in the box to head in a corner.

Then Salah scored again when he rocketed a sensational goal into the top of the net just after the half-hour mark.

No one can ever doubt Jugen Klopp's potent attack. And generally, you can't question their defense either. However, on Saturday, Leeds did well to both pick apart the home side and take advantage of mistakes.

Jack Harrison responded to Liverpool's opener with a superb individual effort. He brought down a ball over the top from Kalvin Phillips before cutting centrally and dancing around the entire defense to score himself.

Later, Van Dijk made a grave mistake when casually trying to control a ball going back toward his own goal instead of clearing it out. Liverpool's keeper Alisson didn't appreciate Van Dijk's nonchalance as Patrick Bamford took advantage and clipped it over the keeper to equalize for the visitors for the second time.

The ping-ponging back and forth at 100 miles per hour continued until the much-needed interval. Had it not, someone would have had a heart attack at Anfield.

The second half saw the volume dial turned down ever so slightly, only one notch at most, with the high intensity continuing for the most part.

Matteusz Klich equalized for the third time in the second half after no one picked up his run across the box. But eventually, Liverpool took the lead a final time when Salah converted another penalty to collect his hat trick thanks to a clear Rodrigo foul with a few minutes remaining.

Wow, Wow, Wow

Klopp summed the game up best in his post-match interview still on the pitch. "Wow. What a game, what an opponent, what a performance from both teams. Football at its best, as a proper spectacle," he marveled.

"When you have seven goals, somebody must have made a mistake, probably. It's pretty rare that you see that many goals in a game. So for us, it's clear - we left some space for improvement in our defending," he continued.

Although only the first game of the year, both sides showed exactly who they are and how they'll play.

Liverpool puffed out their chests like the champions they are. They beat a team they should. They overcame mistakes. And their attack, particularly Salah, showed they're already at full speed.

Marcelo Bielsa in his first Premier League match as manager in Leeds' loss to Liverpool (Photo courtesy of PA)

Leeds showed unequivocally they will not easily go back down to the Championship. Jack Harrison's unorthodox route that includes college soccer in the US plus MLS doesn't mean he can't compete at the top level. And for manager Marcelo Bielsa, his quirky, eccentric ways can work in England and the Premier League.

Everything from this game made it an instant classic. And for both teams, it's an accurate reflection of their sides. Well, for the most part.

Liverpool squeaked by in this thriller. And when the two meet again in April, it will undoubtedly be must-see TV.

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