European Super League: UEFA president slams plans
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Liverpool failed to issue the perfect response after Jurgen Klopp was left ‘angry’ by the way Leeds United stars protested against plans to form a breakaway European Super League. Leeds players warmed up for the 1-1 Premier League draw at Elland Road wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Champions League, Earn It’ in protest at the controversial scheme.
Before the game, Jurgen Klopp became the first manager of a ‘Big Six’ club to speak out against the plans, with Gary Neville saying the Reds manager’s comments had ‘destroyed’ the club’s owners.
He said neither he nor his players knew about the club’s plans to become a ‘founder member’ of the European Super League until Sunday – the days the news broke and sent shockwaves around the football world.
But he was angered by the T-shirts worn by Leeds players in the warm-up to the clash, insisting his players were determined to earn their place at Europe’s top table.
And the players’ performance initially appeared to back up their manager’s claim – with Sadio Mane’s first-half goal looking to propel them back into the Champions League places until it was cancelled out late on by Diego Llorente’s equaliser.
Liverpool went on the front foot against Leeds, and were rewarded for a positive, energetic first-half performance when Mane fired home just past the half-hour mark, fed by a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold after the right-back was picked out by a long ball from Diogo Jota.
Mane and Jota were causing Leeds plenty of problems down the flanks, with the home side struggling to impose the attacking style which has earned them plenty of admirers under Marcelo Bielsa
Liverpool could have found themselves behind before Mane’s opener, though, after Kalvin Phillips seized on a mistake by Fabinho to play in Patrick Bamford, who was denied by Alisson.
And the Reds came out on the attack again in the second half, with Roberto Firmino and James Milner forcing saves from Leeds keeper Illan Meslier.
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Leeds improved as the second half wore on and poured forward in search of an equaliser, with Patrick Bamford close to getting on the end of a couple of chances while Jack Harrison forced a save from Alisson.
They also had a penalty appeal turned down after the ball appeared to hit Trent Alexander-Arnold’s arm.
Leeds of course beat Manchester City last time out to dent the leaders’ title charge.
And just as Liverpool are eager to earn their place in European competition, Leeds appeared just as keen to show the competitiveness that makes the Premier League so compelling.
Bamford rattled the Liverpool bar with another chance, while Alisson was forced into action again to deny Tyler Roberts.
It was becoming more the end-to-end-type game many might have expected from two teams with such attacking prowess – and at the other end of the pitch Meslier had to tip the ball over his bar under pressure from Mohamed Salah, who hit one wide minutes later.
And the goal Leeds had been threatening came when Llorente headed home from a Jack Harrison corner.
The draw left Liverpool two points outside the top-four places, with Klopp’s men having six games left to qualify for next season’s Champions League – if they’re allowed to compete in it.
And games like this – which could have gone either way in the end – are an excellent advert for why football has to remain competitive and open, regardless of the desires of billionnaire owners.
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