Liverpool's dominant display marred by injury

LONDON • Virgil van Dijk offered his support to Liverpool teammate Harvey Elliott after the 18-year-old midfielder suffered a dislocated ankle that overshadowed an impressive 3-0 English Premier League win over Leeds on Sunday.

Pascal Struijk was sent off for a challenge from behind on the teenager, who had been making his third successive English Premier League start of the season, midway through the second half.

By that point, Liverpool were already comfortably ahead thanks to Mohamed Salah's 100th EPL strike in just 162 fixtures and Fabinho's 50th-minute goal.

Sadio Mane rounded off the scoring in stoppage time as Liverpool joined Manchester United and Chelsea at the top of the table on 10 points from four games.

Van Dijk's return has made a massive impact with the visitors conceding just once in their opening four games.

However, the loss of Elliott cast a dark cloud over a positive performance for Jurgen Klopp.

This was supposed to have been the England Under-17 midfielder's breakthrough season, after spending last year on loan at Championship outfit Blackburn, where he impressed.

He had already made four appearances this season, including one off the bench in Liverpool's opening win over Norwich, and was keeping more experienced pros like Naby Keita out of the starting line-up.

Van Dijk's own long-term injury derailed Liverpool's title defence last season.

However, the Dutch captain has returned close to his best so far this season and said Elliott will count on the same support.

"All our thoughts and prayers are going to Harvey. Hopefully, he recovers quickly and as good as possible from it," added van Dijk.

"The good thing is I've experienced it with all the players, the staff, everyone around Liverpool, the fans, that they had my back in the difficult times too. I'm 100 per cent sure we're all going to be there for him."

The incident took place right in front of the Liverpool bench and Klopp was involved in an angry exchange of words with Leeds fans, who had initially been angered that the game was stopped.

However, Elliott was able to applaud the Leeds support as he was carried from the field as they gave the stricken player a rousing reception.

The former Fulham academy graduate, who made his Cottagers debut at 16, yesterday posted on Instagram: "I'm of course absolutely devastated with what happened at Leeds, but have been totally overwhelmed by the love and support shown to me by the entire football world following the injury."

Klopp said the starlet would undergo surgery and will miss a big chunk of the season, adding: "Obviously, it's a bad injury... We will wait for him because obviously he is a top, top player."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2021, with the headline 'Liverpool's dominant display marred by injury'. Subscribe