Liverpool edge Leeds in thriller
LIVERPOOL, England, Sept 12, (AP): Mohamed Salah converted an 88thminute penalty to complete his hat trick and secure Liverpool a thrilling 4-3 win over Leeds in a wobbly start to their English Premier League title defense on Saturday.
Leeds came from behind three times as the promoted side – managed by storied Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa – took the game to the champions at an empty Anfield.
Just when the visitors looked like claiming a point, new signing Rodrigo – on as a substitute – fouled Fabinho in the area and Salah sidefooted home the resulting spot kick.
The Egypt forward opened the scoring in the fourth minute, also from the penalty spot after a handball, to ensure he has netted in the first game of a Premier League for the fourth straight year.
Jack Harrison grabbed Leeds’ first equalizer in the 12th minute after controlling a searching ball forward, cutting inside, and firing a low shot past Alisson.
Virgil van Dijk regained the lead for Liverpool with a header from a corner in the 20th, only to fail to cut out a long pass 10 minutes later, allowing Patrick Bamford to slot home a finish.
Salah gave Liverpool a halftime lead with a fierce shot high into the net in the 33rd, but Leeds continued to bravely go toe-to-toe and equalized through Mateusz Klich in the 58th.
Salah had the final say, though, with
his second penalty of the game. Opening day glory for Arsenal, and with Brazilian duo Willian and Gabriel instantly making a difference on their debuts.
Not every opponents Arsenal face during the rest of the season will, however, be as easy to roll past as Fulham were.
For now, Mikel Arteta will savor opening his first full English Premier League as manager with a 3-0 victory produced by a trio of assists from Willian, including for Gabriel’s second-half header.
Willian was back in west London where nearby Chelsea released the 32-year-old winger at the end of last season, which ended only seven weeks ago due to disruption caused by the pandemic.
The free signing took just eight minutes to make an impact with a closerange shot parried by goalkeeper Marek Rodak and tapped in by Alexandre Lacazette.
It was a corner from Willian four minutes into the second half that allowed Gabriel to claim a goal to cap a commanding defensive display. The center back, who joined from Lille for 30 million euros ($35 million), benefited from slack defending himself as he was left unmarked to head into the net.
The third goal came from a player
Arsenal fans are waiting on confirmation will be staying beyond this season. This was another reminder of the quality of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who faced little resistance after meeting Willian’s pass, before cutting in and curling into the top corner.
Crystal Palace defied a lengthy injury list to beat Southampton 1-0 in their opening match of the English Premier League thanks to Wilfried Zaha’s early goal.
Zaha directed home a cushioned volley in the 13th minute after being picked out by a deep cross from Andros Townsend at an empty Selhurst Park.
Palace fielded a heavily patched-up defense because of injuries to center backs James Tomkins, Gary Cahill and Mamadou Sakho and full backs Patrick van Aanholt and Nathan Ferguson. Offseason signings Eberechi Eze and Michy Batshuayi weren’t deemed ready to start, either, by manager Roy Hodgson.