Leeds United 1 Liverpool 1 – Whites rewarded by hurting Reds’ European ambitions

LEEDS UNITED have never been as popular with rival football fans across the country as they are right now.

Leeds United's Diego Llorente (hidden) scores the hosts' equaliser at Elland Road. Picture: Simon Hulme
Leeds United's Diego Llorente (hidden) scores the hosts' equaliser at Elland Road. Picture: Simon Hulme

Their supporters are rarely accused of being backward in coming forward at getting their point across either. Ask the Football League.

Should things have been different and they were in situ at Elland Road last night, they would have raucously told the newly created European Super League overlords where their new project should go in no uncertain terms.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In the event, many still had their say anyway, a few hundred turning up outside the ground beforehand amid vehement protests. An aeroplane with a ‘Say No to Super League’ banner flew over the stadium and with the football world watching, emotions were high.

HONOURS EVEN: Leeds United’s Jack Harrison is challenged by v Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold during last night’s tussle at Elland Road. Picture by Simon Hulme

Leeds could also count upon scores of followers of rival clubs being with them in spirit – urging them to bloody the nose of one of the ‘shamed six’ from these shores who have thrown their lot in with a cabal which threatens the well-being of English football.

The players, who warmed up in T-shirts which said: ‘Football is for the fans’, did just that, more especially when a stirring late rally was crowned when Diego Llorente picked a choice moment to score his first goal for Leeds late on to grab a just equaliser – a thumping downward header from Jack Harrison’s corner.

It was a goal which will have been celebrated far beyond the city boundaries of Leeds to inflict a blow upon Liverpool’s prospects of reaching the Champions League. It’s called competition, folks.

These two clubs – propelled by the care, will, vision and force of personality of two titans of British football in Don Revie and Bill Shankly from the second tier to the big time in the Sixties – traditionally have plenty in common and show just what can be achieved from the ‘outside.’

Leeds United's Stuart Dallas battles with former Whites midfielder James Milner. Picture: Simon Hulme

Sadly one, in Liverpool, have now sold their soul in signing up for a ‘closed shop’ league which stymies competition and betrays the integrity of a great club. Shankly would have been turning in his grave.

Liverpool took the lead thanks to a 31st-minute strike just past the half-hour from Sadio Mane. It looked comfortable in the first half.

But after an uncharacteristic subdued performance, Leeds burst into life in the final 20 minutes and were much like their old selves. An equaliser came before talk switched back to the off-the-field stuff.

So full of verve and intensity in the goalfest at Anfield in September, Leeds found themselves second best in the first half, played out to the accompaniment of a saxophonist playing ABBA’s ‘Money, Money, Money’ outside the stadium.

Leeds United's Tyler Roberts fires in a shot on the Liverpool goal. Picture: Simon Hulme

It was Liverpool who hit the right notes early though, Leeds having few complaints.

The breakthrough arrived just after the half-hour mark when Harrison switched off – not for the first time in terms of tracking Trent Alexander Arnold – a lapse which proved fatal.

A crossfield pass from Diogo Jota was a good one and Alexander-Arnold ghosted inside Harrison. With Illan Meslier out of his goal, it provided Mane with a routine low finish.

The rhythm came from the Reds, who laid an early marker when Thiago’s swerving shot was tipped over by Meslier, who also made an important save later in the half to block an attempted lob from Jota after Llorente’s header flew short.

Leeds’s best chance also came from loose play with Fabinho’s loose pass seized upon by Kalvin Phillips, who teed up Patrick Bamford. But his touch was heavy and Alisson blocked.

After a passive first-half, Leeds improved and Liverpool looked vulnerable, especially after the introduction of Ian Poveda.

A sign of things to come came when Alisson blocked with his legs to deny Harrison from close in. Bamford then lobbed against the bar from Luke Ayling’s pass before the Reds keeper’s chest got in the way of Tyler Roberts’ effort which should have burst the net.

But Leeds were not to be denied, courtesy of Llorente and there was pure merit in it.

Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski (Klich 79); Phillips, Harrison, Costa (Poveda 67), Dallas, Roberts (Hernandez 86), Harrison; Bamford. Unused substitutes: Casilla, Koch, Davis, Berardi, Gelhardt, Shackleton.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Kabak, Milner, Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jota (Oxlade-Chamberlain 81), Firmino, Mane (Salah 71). Unused substitutes: Adrian, Keita, Tsimikas, Shaqiri, Davies, R Williams, N Williams.

Referee: A Taylor (Cheshire).

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.