Leeds United 0-3 Liverpool - Kalvin Phillips' response to critics, central defensive woe, Rodrigo's missed moment and Stuart Dallas' kindness

Leeds United's game against Liverpool at Elland Road got the atmosphere it deserved but not the performance it needed from Marcelo Bielsa's men.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 11:38 am
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 11:40 am
BIG PERFORMANCE - Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips was superb against Liverpool at Elland Road. Pic: Tony Johnson

The Whites head coach chastised himself after the 3-0 defeat for failing to get the best from his forwards, while Jurgen Klopp's game plan allowed the Reds to pose huge problems on the attack.

Here's the YEP take on who did well, who did not and the events of a dramatic afternoon in LS11.

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Kalvin Phillips

His England critics could do with studying his performance and keeping a close eye on the passes he made. Defensively he was tigerish and disciplined, on the ball he was superb, playing some lovely forward-thinking passes. Many of his passes are the very ones his England critics suggest are outside his capabilities. What's more he appeared everywhere, pressing high up the pitch and winning possession on numerous occasions. A big game performance from a big game player. Sadly no one around him in white matched his performance or really even came close to it.

Sadio Mané

Liverpool fans should savour every moment of this player's time with their club. He's a dream to watch. His movement, his pace, his skill, the intelligence and speed of his decision-making. He gave the Leeds defence a torrid time of it and should have had a hat-trick. Only his finishing was below par, although Leeds deserve credit for the last-ditch tackles and blocks that prevented him from adding more to the goal he eventually scored in stoppage time.

Bad day

Pascal Struijk and Harvey Elliott

Chances keep presenting themselves to the Leeds youngster as more experienced defenders pick up injuries and he was doing well after coming on for Diego Llorente. The challenge on Harvey Elliott had no malice whatsoever and on first viewing it was difficult to understand why a red was produced. He won the ball but his trailing leg trapped Elliott's ankle and boot, leading to the horrific injury for a talented teenager living the dream in the Liverpool side. Ultimately Struijk's tackle caused the dislocation and the damage but it was entirely accidental, rank bad luck. As Bielsa said, this type of tackle is common, so common in fact that Liam Cooper reproduced it a few minutes later on Mane without a foul being given. Referee Craig Pawson had not blown for a foul when play was stopped for Elliott to receive treatment, yet after what had to be VAR intervention a red card was produced. Leeds should appeal, not only because with Llorente presumably out and Koch still recovering from a pelvic issue, they will be light at centre-half, but because a suspension for Struijk would be harsh in the extreme. The 22-year-old continues to show that he's the future for Leeds in central defence and continues to add weight to the argument that he should start, almost regardless of who else is available.

Diego Llorente

Another injury. Yet another injury. Llorente could not hide his dismay as he came off the pitch. Since his arrival at Leeds he's picked up no fewer than five injuries, robbing the Whites of a player who is genuinely fun to watch but more importantly making the 28-year-old's time in England more of a nightmare than a dream. The hope is that this one is something minor, from which he can recover quickly.

Turning point

Rodrigo miss

There's no guarantee at all that Leeds would have performed well enough to hold their lead had Rodrigo finished off his golden early chance, but it would have been nice to find out. A shot either side of the goalkeeper would have put Leeds 1-0 up and Elland Road would have erupted. The £27m man's frustration goes on. He was hooked at the interval and things need to click for him sooner rather than later. Out of possession he didn't appear to be contributing a great deal and although he produced a fine cross for Luke Ayling, too often he wasn't able to give Leeds an attacking edge.

Number of the day

30

Liverpool peppered Illan Meslier's goal with 30 shots, nine of which were on target. They really could have humiliated their hosts with a seriously lopsided scoreline. As it was, 3-0 was more than deserved given their superiority even well before the sending off. If they avoid the kind of injury trouble they ran into last season, Liverpool are going to present stiff opposition to anyone else with title hopes. A very good side in menacing form.

Off camera

Stuart Dallas was brought out for media duties at full-time and while chatting to a broadcaster a young Leeds fan and his mum waited patiently for a photo. Dallas went one step further, taking off his training top and putting it on the youngster. As an added bonus, Raphinha, en route to an interview of his own, spotted them posing for a photo and leapt in to make it an even more special moment.

James Milner received the expected ovation from Leeds fans as he came out to warm up. A moment or two later he was joined on the sideline by fellow substitute Jordan Henderson. It may have been something a team-mate said or an amusing memory that simply came to mind at that moment, but as Whites fans informed Henderson of their belief that he is but an inferior version of Kalvin Phillips, Milner's face wore a huge grin.