Football

Liverpool's defence comes under fire after 4-3 win over Leeds

Van Dijk, in particular, criticised for his part in Leeds' second goal of a 4-3 thriller

Liverpool's defence came under criticism after the champions opened their English Premier League campaign with a 4-3 win over Leeds United yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Mohamed Salah grabbed a hat-trick with Virgil van Dijk scoring the Reds' other goal.

However, the Dutchman - who is widely recognised as the world's best defender - came in for stinging criticism after his misjudged flick away was pounced on by Patrick Bamford to make it 2-2.

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said Leeds' opener by Jack Harrison, which tied the scores at 1-1, was the fault of fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

Said Klopp: "For the first goal, both fullbacks were deeper than the centre halves and that should never happen in football.

"The second goal was a misunderstanding between Virgil and Ali(sson) and I don't think we will see these situations very often.

"The third one we changed Hendo (Jordan Henderson) not long before and our formation was moving and we didn't close one gap and again to use a situation like that, you need the game plan and bravery of Leeds...

"I don't think the goalscorer (Mateusz Klich) was a striker, he just showed up there and finished it off brilliantly. We let him run and the midfielders could have done differently."

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and ex-Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor called van Dijk "arrogant" while former Reds manager Graeme Souness said the Dutchman "had an absolute stinker".

Former England forward Agbonlahor said on talkSPORT: "I felt yesterday's performance was, from van Dijk, arrogant; that flick he made in the goal he gave away, it felt like, 'We are playing Leeds United, it's going to be an easy game and I can let my standards drop'.

"Even Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right was poor defensively.

"Van Dijk is a great defender, and he will be one of the greatest defenders to ever play the game... but you can't put him in that category of Rio Ferdinand and Vincent Kompany yet."

Opta highlighted that van Dijk has made two errors that have led to goals in his last four EPL matches, after making just one in his first 154 appearances.

Ex-Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright believes teams, such as Liverpool's next opponents Chelsea, will be watching closely to see how they can trouble the Reds defence like Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa did.

He said on the BBC: "They're totally out of whack, they've got Robertson too far up that side and Trent Alexander-Arnold wide out there...

"They could have been punished so much more... People will be watching to see if they can cause them problems."

Klopp called Leeds "special" with Souness adding on Sky Sports: "For 80 minutes, Leeds were fantastic.

"But in the last 10, Liverpool pinned them back and it was only a matter of time before someone made a mistake... But Leeds have made a real statement tonight."

Bielsa, however, took a more pragmatic view, saying: "I can never be happy in defeat.

"There were periods when Liverpool dominated. There were loads of periods when the game was even. In some moments, we were able to be superior. On the whole though, Liverpool were superior."

Football