Leeds United's bad day pales into comparison alongside Harvey Elliott's terrible injury

The first proper Elland Road game against one of English football's giants since 2004 ought to have been a great day for Leeds United, but it turned into a very bad day at the office.

Liverpool have been before in the last 17 years, but only with under-strength cup teams or terraces closed because of Covid-19. The volume levels confirmed this was the real deal, but the Whites failed to rise to the occasion and were beaten 3-0.

The person deserving most sympathy was Liverpool's Harvey Elliott, stretchered off with a horrible-looking injury injury in the second half but Pascal Struijk appeared to be red carded for the seriousness of the injury, not the tackle which won the ball before he suffered it.

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The official line was that the "intensity" of the tackle and the way it endangered Elliott was to blame.

INJURY: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott goes down in pain before being stretchered off

By then Leeds were already 2-0 down, and Struijk's fellow centre-back Diego Llorente had succumbed to another muscle injury. Robin Koch was not fit to take his place in a 20-man squad. The Whites are at Newcastle United on Friday.

It appeared to be the second time in the game substitute Struijk had been punished for a good tackle.

The impending centre-back shortage if Struijk's dismissal cannot be overturned was only one problem, though, with Leeds's winless start to the season extended by opponents who showed their class ahead of Wednesday's Champions League visit of AC Milan.

The game started at a ferocious pace but it seemed to suit Liverpool more than the hosts whose style is often compared to basketball by opposition managers. Certainly Llorente's fraglie hamstrings were not up to it, giving way around the half-hour mark.

Rodrigo had the first chance of the match, but fired it straight at Alisson, one of three Brazilian internationals along with Fabinho and Leeds's Raphinha, given permission to play the morning before the game.

Generally, though, Liverpool just looked sharper. In the seventh minute an unwise Luke Ayling pass was followed by a poor Rodrigo touch before Trent Alexander-Arnold beat Jack Harrison to the ball. The cross was too far in front of Diogo Jota, but it was a warning.

Saido Mane, whose swapping of positions with centre-forward Jota was causing problems, saw a shot deflect wide after Harrison gave the ball away. Liam Cooper and Llorente got in one another's way going for the same ball.

In a fervent Elland Road atmosphere, Leeds looked flustered. Cooper and Llorente were both boked early for pulling back forwards.

When a poor Llorente pass picked out Alexander-Arnold, Leeds did well to win the ball back, only for Kalvin Phillips's pass to be too far in front of Patrick Bamford. Leeds looked dangerous on their rare counter-attacks, or they would have with more precision.

Llorente's excellent tackle on Mane set off an attack which saw Junior Firpo's shot blocked after Harrison's pull-back but the traffic was mainly in the opposite direction.

Illan Meslier made a one-handed save when Mohamed Salah picked Jota out but five minutes later the Egyptian could not be stopped, offside in the build-up but not when he picked out

Alexander-Arnold then got behind the Leeds defence but crucially the cross to tap in his 1--tj Premier League goal. The move had started when Joel Matip had stepped out of defence, left to do so by Rodrigo.

Mane blasted over, Meslier threw himself in front of a Harvey Elliott shot Llorente touched Virgil van Dijk's effort from the corner behind as the roof threatened to fall in. Llorente's body soon gave in.

Under the circumstances Leeds did well to get to half-time when Rodrigo made way for Tyler Roberts.

Struijk produced an excellent challenge on Salah after Mane picked him out but Fabinho was allowed two chances to score, Bamford blocking the first but no one able to prevent the second.

Leeds were having a spell of pressure when the game ended as a contest, an excellent Stuart Dallas turn coming to nothing and Roberts very deliberate shot missing the target.

When Struijk won the ball from Elliott near the touchline, Pawson allowed play to go on but the reaction of Salah and the Liverpool substitutes on the touchline showed the midfielder, just establishing himself in the Reds team, had suffered a serious injury.

To dismiss Struijk seemed harsh, although with the television company not showing replays, it was difficult to make a hard and fast judgement as the video assistant referee could.

Leeds brought on Dan James for his debut rather than going for a damage-limitation option and continued to show spirit, typified by a Bamford effort from just inside Liverpool's half which had lisson scrambling back to tip it over but inevitably Liverpool found spaces and whilst Meslier was able to deny them a couple of times, Jordan Henderson and the man he crossed to Thiago, had plenty of space in stoppage time. Mane spun on the ball to score a third goal.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Llorente (Struijk 33), Cooper, Firpo; Phillips; Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo (Roberts 46), Harrison (James 68); Bamford.

Unused substitutes: Klaesson, Cresswell, Summerville, Klich, McCarron, Shackleton.

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Elliott (Henderson 64), Fabinho, Thiago (Keïta 90); Salah, Jota (Oxlade-Chamberlain 82), Mane.

Unused substitutes: Konate, Milner, Gomez, Jones, Tsimikas, Kelleher.

Referee: C Pawson (Sheffield).