Diego Llorente earns Leeds draw with Liverpool as Super League casts shadow

Aaron Bower at Elland Road
·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Getty Images

Liverpool missed out on the opportunity to move into the Champions League plac… oh, come on. Who are we kidding? Jürgen Klopp and his players are absolutely blameless in the pathetic power grab we have seen play out in the last day or so, but not even a group that has provided so much hope and joy to their supporters in recent times could have lifted the gloom here.

The actual football – the thing we are all here for – has struggled to get too much of a look-in lately. The stench of capitalist greed that surrounds the European Super League has threatened to overshadow everything we love but for 90 minutes here, there was the chance to sit back and forget the shameful acts of footballing treason executed by the men in certain boardrooms across the country.

Related: Leeds United 1-1 Liverpool: Premier League – live!

Whether you were able to do that or not probably depends on whether you are a supporter of one of the Scavenger Six. Diego Llorente’s late header which ensured a deserved point for Leeds United probably cheered many up. It certainly raised an extra octave or two from the saxophonist outside Elland Road, who spent the entire night playing the Abba hit, Money, Money, Money.

We should be talking about how the reigning Premier League champions once again slipped up in their quest to get into the Champions League next season. Sadio Mané’s first-half strike, the least they deserved for their dominance in the opening 45 minutes, looked to be taking them fourth … whatever that means in a few weeks’ time when the dust settles on the sheer lunacy of the ESL.

But a night which began with the Leeds players sporting T-shirts which read: ‘Champions League. Earn it’ and ‘Football is for the fans’ ended with Llorente claiming a well-merited equaliser for Leeds, one of so many rich, historic clubs in this country whose history and culture has been treated with nothing other than contempt by a handful of myopic owners.

“People were shouting at us today when we were walking in Leeds, and it is nothing to do with us,” Klopp said.

Sadio Man&#xe9; celebrates his goal with Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Sadio Mané celebrates his goal with Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/AFP/Getty Images

“When I’m involved in things, I take the criticism, but we’re not involved in this. It’s a tough one at the moment. When you hear pundits talking about the club … this club is bigger than all of us.”

It is shameful that Klopp was exposed, forced to front up and answer questions on a dystopian idea that had nothing to do with him. But it is also symptomatic of how some within the game have contempt for anything other than money. Certainly not the fans, nor the subplots like Liverpool’s quest for the top four which ultimately makes football worth watching.

Related: Power grab in a pandemic: how absence of fans gave greedy owners their chance | Barney Ronay

That is once again very much in the balance here after they were denied all three points by Leeds. Mané’s goal on the half-hour mark, a simple tap-in after Trent Alexander-Arnold snuck in behind and squared it for the forward, looked as though it would be enough to guarantee victory here for large periods of the evening.

But Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side more than played their part in a game he described as “beautiful” afterwards, and Llorente’s late equaliser was no less than they deserved. His thoughts on the ESL were perhaps just as measured as his side’s second-half performance. “It causes harm to football,” he said.

“This shouldn’t surprise any of us. Football belongs to everybody. Even if there are owners, the real owners of football are the ones who love the badge. Without them, football will disappear. Let’s see who takes to the defence of the fans.” You do wonder, if we can talk about the football for a minute, how so many would have reacted to a dramatic finish here at Elland Road.

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After relentlessly pressuring Liverpool for the majority of the second half, it looked as though they would not take advantage of their dominance.

The chances came and went; Jack Harrison fired straight at Alisson, before Tyler Roberts did the same moments later. Patrick Bamford hit the crossbar, and Helder Costa also fired wide from close range.

But eventually, the pressure did tell. A pinpoint corner from Harrison was met by the head of Llorente, and it was not difficult to imagine that, for once, the boisterous celebrations from the home directors – and Leeds’ newest saxophone star – were replicated all across the country.