Inspired Liverpool thrash Leeds to go three points off the top

Liverpool 6-0 Leeds: Salah and Mane each net a brace as both Reds’ centre-backs get on the scoresheet too

Melissa Reddy
Anfield
Thursday 24 February 2022 02:49
Comments
<p>Another goal for the Reds </p>

Another goal for the Reds

And then, after six unanswered goals, it was down to three points. Pep Guardiola’s description that Liverpool are a “pain in the ass” required the addition of the word “almighty” on Wednesday night as they bulldozed Leeds and took a mega bite into Manchester City’s lead at the Premier League summit.

There was zero sign of anxiety or elevated pressure from those representing the home side on the pitch in a game that took on much greater significance after Harry Kane’s towering 95th-minute header at the Etihad injected life into the title race.

Instead, there was a fury and ferocity to tear into Marcelo Bielsa’s side and cause increased discomfort for City, as told in the first half stats alone: three Liverpool goals, eight shots on target versus none.

The ruthlessness was such that either side of Mohamed Salah’s penalties, a winding Joel Matip run had finally resulted in a fine finish after what seems a lifetime of him trying that.

The scoreline at the break could have been fatter had Luis Diaz’s early industry been rewarded, Fabinho and Andy Robertson converted well-crafted openings or a Salah chip wasn’t cleared off the line.

Before the pummelling had began, Leeds could have hurt Liverpool. Alisson had dithered while looking for passing options, and as he went to kick long, Daniel James beat him for pace but the goalkeeper recovered and Matip was on hand to mop up danger.

The story was pretty much one-sided from there bar an offside goal from Raphinha.

There were 14 minutes played when Stuart Dallas blocked Andy Robertson’s cross and referee Michael Oliver had no hesitation pointing to the spot. Salah calmly sent Illan Meslier the wrong way and a rout was born.

On the half-hour, Anfield was greeted to the familiar sight of Matip gliding into midfield with his trademarked awkward grace. The centre-back shifted the ball out to Salah and continued his foray into the box, where he received an excellent return pass.

Matip applied the final touches like a pedigreed forward, scooping over Meslier. A scene of joy and disbelief that could feature on the Wholesome Memes feed.

Luke Ayling had two nibbles at Sadio Mane, resulting in a yellow and another spot-kick which Salah directed to the same side, this time nestling the ball into the top corner.

Raphinha forced a save from Alisson and Dallas dragged a shot wide in a spell of Leeds offering greater sting.

It was short-lived: Liverpool recovered a goal kick from the visitors, with Jordan Henderson popping it to Salah and the standout player of the year conjuring a sexy reverse pass back to the captain.

He squared to Mane, who smashed a fourth into the roof of the net.

The Senegalese would have another, scooping in after substitute Divock Origi’s shot was smothered by Meslier but lopped to Mane.

Virgil van Dijk thundered in a header in the dying seconds to hammer home the dominance, the ambition, the objective.

Liverpool head into the League Cup final feeling on top of the world, while Leeds look at the landscape at the bottom of the table with trepidation.

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