Liverpool hit Leeds for six after controversial Gakpo opener
LEEDS - Liverpool crushed Leeds 6-1 as Cody Gakpo’s controversial opener provided the spark for the Reds’ first win in five Premier League games on Monday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side took the lead at Elland Road when Gakpo’s goal was allowed to stand despite the ball striking Trent Alexander-Arnold’s arm in the build-up.
It was reported the VAR official did not check the incident because it happened too far back in the move, but Leeds were furious at the perceived injustice.
Mohamed Salah rubbed salt into Leeds’ wounds when he increased Liverpool’s lead four minutes later before Luis Sinisterra got one back for the struggling hosts.
Diogo Jota’s double, another Salah strike and Darwin Nunez’s late effort ensured Liverpool ended their five-game winless run in all competitions.
After coming within a whisker of winning a quadruple last season, Liverpool have been reduced to scrambling to reach next season’s Europa League or Europa Conference League, with the Champions League seemingly out of reach.
With that target in mind, the eighth-placed Reds are now within two points of seventh-placed Brighton.
“It’s the best game we’ve played this season from all different perspectives,” Klopp said.
“My favourite part was in the 92nd minute when we chased the poor boy on the ball from Leeds. The counter-pressing was the best for, I want to say, decades!”
Klopp has compared fan criticism of Liverpool potentially not making big-money transfers in the coming close-season as like a five-year-old asking for a Ferrari for Christmas.
But on the evidence of this composed display and the recent fightback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with leaders Arsenal, Liverpool still have the foundations in place for a return to prominence next term.
“The second half against Arsenal was super important to us. We have to do what we did tonight again and again,” Klopp said.
“I hope these one-and-a-half games gives us the right sign for the end of the season.
“I would like to see us with the same desire and passion. That’s the job, to bring it consistently.”
Leeds crumbled again eight days after their 5-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace and sit just two points above the relegation zone with seven games left.
Javi Gracia’s team were booed off after becoming only the second club to concede five or more home goals in successive Premier League games.
After marking the 34th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster before kick-off, Liverpool quickly seized the momentum before their dubious opener in the 35th minute.
Alexander-Arnold blocked Junior Firpo’s pass with his elbow before picking out Salah.
When Salah passed back to Alexander-Arnold, the right-back squared for Gakpo to slot home from close range.
Leeds were fuming, only for VAR to opt against checking the incident despite their protests.
Gakpo’s fifth goal since signing from PSV Eindhoven in January was followed by the latest example of Salah tormenting Leeds.
Salah’s eighth goal in six appearances against Leeds came in ruthless fashion.
Jota was allowed to advance unchecked before slipping a pass to Salah, who finished with unerring precision.
Ibrahima Konate handed Leeds a goal in the 47th minute when the Liverpool centre-back allowed himself to be dispossessed by Sinisterra on the edge of the area.
Sinisterra gratefully accepted the gift as he clipped his shot over the exposed Alisson Becker.
But Leeds’ comeback hopes were extinguished within five minutes as Curtis Jones’ raking pass picked out Jota, who drilled past Illan Meslier from just inside the area for his first league goal in 12 months.
VAR did disallow a Liverpool goal when Salah’s effort was ruled out for offside against Virgil van Dijk, but the rampant Reds still bagged their fourth of the night in the 64th minute.
Gakpo took Andrew Robertson’s pass and teed up Salah for an emphatic finish from six yards.
Jota swept in Jordan Henderson’s cross after 73 minutes before Nunez put the final flourish on Liverpool’s powerful performance when he controlled Alexander-Arnold’s pass on his chest and fired home in the 90th minute. — AFP