Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United
Well, this was a Premier League treat for the neutrals!
An opening day classic to join the pantheon of other opening day crackers and produced Premier League 2020 highlights galore.
Sure, some of the defensive play was well below par, but games like this often crop up on opening weekends and, if this is a sign of what is to come over the next eight months, it could be a lot of fun!
In the end, Liverpool – beginning a season as champions for the first time in 30 years – won because Mohamed Salah was superbly sharp and rescued his unconvincing defenders.
Leeds, returning to top-level football after a 16-year absence with a new shirt sponsorship deal to boot, may have lost but never stopped believing and will have impressed many.
The only downside there were no fans inside the stadium to witness the action unfold.
Likewise, some Leeds United followers have long had a bad reputation.
But the fact is that all clubs have a minority of supporters who let themselves down and this clash between two clubs renowned for their passion – passionate play and passionate supporters – deserved to be seen in person.
Highlights of the game
The SBOTOP Premier League 2020 betting odds for this clash for the ages predicted goals, but not seven (as well as four disallowed goals)!
Salah made it a nightmare start for the newly promoted visitors after just four minutes when his shot was handled by one of the Leeds debutants, Germany defender Robin Koch, and he drilled home the spot-kick.
Another debutant then produced a perfect response as Jack Harrison drilled a low right-foot equaliser past Alisson.
Poor defending allowed Virgil van Dijk to restore Liverpool’s advantage as he headed in Andy Robertson’s corner but van Dijk then committed a rare error as he gifted the ball to Patrick Bamford, who coolly lifted the ball over Alisson.
An unstoppable drive from Salah restored Liverpool’s advantage before the break only for an equally superb first touch and volley from Mateusz Klich drew Leeds level for a third time.
Remarkably, the champions were to lead for the fourth and final occasion and it was crucial. Salah converted his second spot-kick of the evening after a reckless late challenge from another debutant, substitute Rodrigo.
And with that, there was barely time for either side to get their breath back!
Liverpool have now won each of the last 35 top-flight games in which Salah has scored – he has overtaken Wayne Rooney’s competition record of 34 consecutive wins when scoring from September 2008 to February 2011.
Salah has scored 50 goals in 63 home games in the Premier League – only Alan Shearer (47 apps) reached 50 home goals in fewer appearances in the competition’s history.
Salah is only the second player to score in his side’s opening fixture in four consecutive Premier League seasons. Teddy Sheringham did so with Nottingham Forest in 1992 and Tottenham from 1993 to 1995.
Salah is the first Liverpool player to score a hat-trick on the opening day of a league season since John Aldridge against Charlton in 1988.
Leeds are the first promoted side to score three goals away at the reigning champions in the Premier League since Hull lost 4-3 to Man United in November 2008.
Harrison, Bamford and Klich are the first players to score on his Premier League debut for Leeds since Nick Barmby in August 2002 v Man City and the first to do so in an away game since Alan Smith in November 1998 – which was also at Anfield against Liverpool.
Liverpool have conceded three goals in back-to-back home league games for the first time since September 1982.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their opening league fixture over the past eight seasons, winning seven times.
This was the seventh time the reigning Premier League champions have hosted a newly-promoted side in their opening game, with the title holders winning all seven matches.
Liverpool are unbeaten in a club-record 60 Premier League fixtures at Anfield (won 49, drawn 11), since losing at home to Crystal Palace in April 2017.
This is the first time in 13 seasons in the Premier League that Leeds have lost their opening match.
Liverpool play their first match on the road with a trip to big-spending Chelsea next Sunday afternoon (September 20).
Leeds now have back-to-back home matches, against Hull in the League Cup on Wednesday night before welcoming Fulham to Elland Road next Saturday.
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