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Sadio Mane welcome, Mohamed Salah tribute and other Liverpool moments missed against Leeds United

Liverpool are up and running and on this evidence, it’s going to be some ride.

The Reds kicked off their defence of a first title since 1990 with a thrilling 4-3 win over newly-promoted Leeds United at Anfield on Saturday.

A hat-trick from Mohamed Salah did the majority of the damage to Marcelo Bielsa’s side, but the hosts were blighted by a string of defensive mistakes.

But you knew all of that, of course.

What you may not have caught, however, was a number of interesting subplots from the Anfield action.

Here are some moments you may have missed.

Welcome to big school

It was a proud moment for Luke Ayling on Saturday as he led out Leeds as captain for their first game in the Premier League for 16 years.

And while it would have been a memorable day for the defender, it didn’t take long before he was introduced to the unforgiving realities of football in the top flight.

Ayling will have to come up against some of the best in the world this season, but he will be glad his brush with Sadio Mane is over with early.

One first-half moment showed Ayling just how ruthless it can be at the top.

With his back to goal, Mane retreated further and further towards his own thanks to some high pressing from the eager Ayling.

But rather than get flustered, Mane simply turned his marker three times before executing the most impudent of nutmegs and beginning another attack.

It was a brilliant and brutal piece of skill that was good enough to draw some howls of laughter from the assembled media.

Welcome to the Premier League, Luke.

Salah’s celebration explained

With one final swing of his left boot, Mohamed Salah had sealed his hat-trick and the points for Liverpool.

Then, the man affectionately dubbed ‘the Egyptian King’, performed an unusual celebration that had not been seen before at Anfield.

As Salah pressed his hand over his ears for the late winner, many on social media began to speculate just what this particular celebration meant.

Salah’s reaction to his hat-trick was in fact a tribute to his international colleague Moamen Zakaria, who is currently suffering with motor neurone disease.

Salah also did the hand gesture to represent the number eight in Arabic, which Zakaria wears for Al Ahly in Egypt.

A classy tribute from one of the most influential sportsmen on the planet.

 

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On the spot

For a team that spends an awful lot of time in the opposition penalty area, Liverpool were only awarded five spot kicks across the entirety of last season.

Their great rivals, Manchester United, were given a Premier League record of 14 last term, while Manchester City ended their season with 11.

The two penalties awarded for the Reds against Leeds came via a handball from defender Robin Koch and a lazy and clumsy challenge on Fabinho late on from striker Rodrigo.

In the space of one game, Liverpool earned 40 per cent of last season’s total from the penalty spot.

Given how confidently they were tucked away by hat-trick hero, Salah, the Egyptian will be rubbing his hands at what could be something of a new avenue for goals this season.

Leeds metal shown

Leeds United made 33 tackles against the Premier League champions at Anfield.

That is the most won at Anfield since Jurgen Klopp was appointed manager in 2015.

In response, Klopp watched his side win just 13 tackles while the away side also had more of the ball at 52 per cent of possession.

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