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Saturday November 28th, 2020 9:31AM

Liverpool wins wild opener vs Leeds in EPL title defense

By The Associated Press
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Adopting his trademark crouching position in the technical area, Marcelo Bielsa closely studied the mayhem unfolding in front of him on the Anfield pitch.

Bielsa’s first English Premier League game as a manager was barely a half-hour old and already there’d been five goals, countless chances and furious, end-to-end drama.

Back in the top division after a 16-year absence, Leeds is certainly going to be a fun watch under the Argentine coaching great this season.

Bielsa’s team went toe-to-toe with Liverpool in the first match of the champion's title defense and was denied a point only after conceding a late penalty, converted by Mohamed Salah to complete his hat trick and a 4-3 win for the hosts.

“It was eventful,” Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said with a smile, summing up a chaotic match.

“They are going to give trouble to many teams in the league.”

Leeds didn't take a step back with its intense pressing style, coming from behind three times at an empty Anfield after initially going behind to Salah's first penalty of the game in the fourth minute.

Salah was given the chance to win the match in the 88th minute after a foul by Leeds' high-profile new signing, Spain striker Rodrigo, and the Egypt forward didn't waste it.

It was much more straightforward for Arsenal against another promoted team as the Premier League started a month later than scheduled due to the pandemic that is still preventing fans from attending games.

Fulham was swotted aside in a 3-0 home loss to the Gunners, with Willian setting up all of the goals on his debut after a cross-London switch from Chelsea.

Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel — another debutant from Brazil, like Willian — and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the beneficiaries at Craven Cottage.

It already looks like it’s going to be a long season for Fulham, whose defending was suspect when they were relegated from the Premier League two seasons ago after conceding a division-high 81 goals.

Arsenal opened league play having already featured in the first match of the English season, the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium where it beat Liverpool last month.

Also on Saturday, Wilfried Zaha scored early as Crystal Palace defied a long injury list to beat Southampton 1-0.

West Ham hosted Newcastle in the late game.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports
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