Football: ‘No excuses’ for Liverpool, says Klopp as Leeds end hosts’ unbeaten run at Anfield

Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez looks on after the final whistle. PHOTO: AFP

LIVERPOOL, England - Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool are putting Champions League football next season at risk with a disastrous start to the season after Leeds stunned Anfield with a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Crysencio Summerville’s 89th-minute goal inflicted the Reds’ first home league defeat in front of a crowd since April 2017.

Liverpool have now lost twice as many games in the first 12 league games of this season as they did in 38 last season.

Klopp’s men are 13 points behind of Manchester City at the top of the table and eight adrift of the top four.

“We cannot qualify for the Champions League if you play as inconsistent as we do in the moment,” said Klopp. “We have to fix that and then anything is possible.”

For the second time in a week, Liverpool were beaten by a side that started the day in the relegation zone.

Klopp again pointed the finger for his side’s struggles this season on a series of injuries and a brutal schedule to make way for a mid-season World Cup.

“The situation is like it is. There is no excuse but we had problems from the first day with injuries or half-fit players. Some play too often, others play too early (after injury).

“It’s not now for an overhaul, but you have to fight through and fight for momentum and confidence.”

The visitors began the night second bottom of the table but climbed out of the relegation zone thanks to their first win in nine games.

Liverpool gifted Rodrigo an early opener before Mohamed Salah levelled for the Reds.

Klopp’s men had not tasted a league defeat in front of their own supporters since losing to Crystal Palace in April 2017, although they did lose six in a row during the 2020-21 season when crowds were banished due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But that proud record came to a shocking end when Summerville wriggled free inside the area and fired into the far corner.

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch had been fighting to save his job after previously failing to win since August.

“Everybody has made a big deal about firing me, but the board and I have been unified and we’ve stuck together,” said the American.

“My feeling is that we shouldn’t be in the situation we’re in, but we are.

“I’ve tried to stay calm, but I’ve also tried to push. The players have stepped up big today.”

The American could not have wished for a more generous gift from the hosts than for the opener after just four minutes.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker stumbled as he tried to reach Joe Gomez’s backpass, allowing Rodrigo an easy finish into the unguarded net for the Spaniard’s sixth goal of the season.

That was the eighth time in 12 league games this season that Liverpool have conceded first.

The lead did not last long as Salah levelled with his seventh goal in five games against Leeds by steering home Andy Robertson’s cross on 14 minutes.

An unusually late Saturday night kick-off for the Premier League caused by Liverpool’s Champions League commitments on Tuesday contributed to a crackling atmosphere.

Spurred on by both sets of supporters, the two teams continued to tear from one end of the field to the other in a wide open match.

Leeds’ Dutch striker Crysencio Summerville celebrates scoring his team’s second goal. PHOTO: AFP

Leeds were inches away from retaking the lead when Brendan Aaronson hit the crossbar before Alisson made amends for his earlier slip by saving from Jack Harrison.

Darwin Nunez is beginning to show the promise that prompted Liverpool to spend €75 million (S$100 million) on the Uruguayan.

Nunez had scored in his previous four starts and should have netted once more when he was clean through, but was denied by a perfectly timed tackle by Illan Meslier.

The Frenchman also got the better of a personal duel with Nunez after the break as he saved a one-on-one and then turned over a brilliant strike from outside the box by the former Benfica player.

In their determination to find a winner, Liverpool sent Virgil van Dijk forward as an auxiliary centre-forward, leaving gaps for Leeds to exploit.

A poor first touch from Patrick Bamford cost the Leeds striker a clear sight of goal.

Marsch’s men still needed Meslier to be sharp as he again used an outstretched foot to deny Salah then pounced on Firmino’s close range header.

But just as Leeds seemed to be settling for a point, Summerville produced a moment of genius to catapult them up to 15th in the table. AFP

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