May 8, 2021

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Leeds United 1-1 Liverpool: Llorente cancels Mane’s goal to please the neutrals

Diego Llorente headed a late equalizer to give Leeds United a 1-1 draw and validate Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League – at least as far as that ambition can still be understood.

Preparation to face Monday was dominated by the fallout from the announcement of the fiercely controversial European Premier League, in which Liverpool is set to be one of the twelve founding members.

Jürgen Klopp reiterated his opposition to such a project before kick-off, and when Leeds fans protested outside the ground, their players prepared in shirts, demanding Liverpool “win” a place in the Champions League.

Mane’s clever finish in the first half did some work towards the goal, but Spanish defender Llorente scored his first goal in Leeds three minutes before the end of time to prevent the Reds from defeating West Ham on goal difference.

The presence of UEFA in an apparent state of war against the dissident scores means that the Reds’ move to the top four would have been moot anyway.

Liverpool started with the front foot and Ilan Mesliere was in full swing, overcoming Thiago Alcantara in the fifth minute.

Calvin Phillips struggled for his usual rhythm in Leeds midfield, but the England international mocked Fabinho’s slow pass to play for Patrick Bamford, who took a touch that allowed Alison to dash away from his streak and save her.

Visitors took advantage of this hatch with a sumptuous opener after half an hour.

Diogo Guetta chose Trent Alexander-Arnold as a striker and a cross-back was clinically diverted by Mane.

Jota headed a narrow corner kick early in the second half and Missler threw himself bravely towards James Milner’s cross with a latent Mane but Leeds increasingly took the match to their opponents.

Klopp’s unease about the match’s course was illustrated by calling Mohamed Salah from the bench in the 71st minute – shortly before Bamford fell in an attempted dive against the crossbar.

Alison was then banned from Tyler Roberts at close range, but after Salah went too far, Liverpool could not hold out – Llorente put the finish on a superb corner kick for Jack Harrison from the left flank.