‘You can’t blame one player’: Marcelo Bielsa refuses to pin Leeds’ agonising opening day defeat on £27m new boy Rodrigo after striker gave away late penalty to champions Liverpool
- New signing Rodrigo gave away losing penalty in Leeds’ 4-3 defeat vs Liverpool
- Manager Marcelo Bielsa refused to blame the Spaniard for the narrow loss
- The Argentine had mixed emotions after a spirited display against Champions
- Jurgen Klopp heaped praise on hat-trick scorer Mohamed Salah and opponents
Leeds United gave champions Liverpool an almighty scare on their return to the Premier League only to suffer a late defeat – but boss Marcelo Bielsa refused to blame record signing Rodrigo for conceding the penalty that led to Mo Salah’s winner in a 4-3 thriller.
On three occasions Leeds had recovered to draw level and they looked like taking a deserved point with only two minutes remaining when substitute Rodrigo dangled a leg and tripped Fabinho, allowing Salah to complete his hat-trick with a second from the penalty spot.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for the visitors after a game in which both sides had attacked brilliantly only to lose goals to individual errors.
New signing Rodrigo gave away a penalty two minutes from time to allow Liverpool to win
Marcelo Bielsa refused to blame the £27m signing for the spirited 4-3 defeat against the Reds
And it was the clumsy challenge of Spain striker Rodrigo that proved decisive. Bielsa, though, said the defeat should not be pinned on the £27million summer signing.
‘You can’t blame one player for the defeat, even if he made an error,’ said the Argentine.
‘There is no direct relationship between the foul by Rodrigo and the result. There are other actions that create unbalance.
‘Prior to the penalty Liverpool had chances to score also, so it didn’t have to come from the penalty. On the whole, Liverpool were superior.’
Klopp admitted Leeds had been ‘uncomfortable’ to play against, but there were mixed emotions for Bielsa following his Premier League bow.
The Argentine said he has mixed emotions after a strong display which ended in defeat
‘I can never be happy in defeat,’ he said. ‘But we showed we deserved to be here.
‘The players were calm and played a serene game and went into it confident. They showed that you should not be afraid. They helped each other not to be nervous.
‘But, at this level, errors equal goals. We cannot ignore the fact we conceded four. A lot of these could have been avoided.’
Salah took his Premier League tally at Anfield to 52 goals from 63 appearances, and only Alan Shearer has reached a half century in fewer home games.
Klopp said: ‘It is very special to have these kind of numbers – and long may it continue. Mo is a very, very special player. His performance was exceptional. He deserved his goals.
Jurgen Klopp heaped praise on hat-trick scorer and ‘special player’ Mohamed Salah
‘He was constantly pressing, causing the opponent massive problems. He should be proud.’
Klopp was also full of admiration for the top-flight new boys, who emerged with 52 per cent possession.
‘I expected that they would have more of the ball,’ he said. ‘We will always struggle against them, the way they play, it is just uncomfortable. It is different to all other teams.
‘But I liked the attitude of my team. They just didn’t stop – I really like it. So I am completely fine with the game – offensively good, defensively we can improve.
‘With the ball we were a proper threat in the right moments. But yes, there is room for improvement. We knew before the game it would not be easy (to retain our title).’
The Premier league champion was also complimentary of Leeds’ full-throttle performance
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