Leeds impress but Woodburn steals Anfield show

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Liverpool 2-0 Leeds – thisisanfield.com

17-year-old Ben Woodburn scored his first senior goal in front of the Kop, as Liverpool secured a fortuitous 2-0 win over Leeds. The visitors had been well-structured for much of the contest but came undone when Divock Origi opened the scoring late on.

The Belgian had struggled in the earlier stages and was well handled by Charlie Taylor and Stuart Dallas. Leeds played a lot of long balls down the right, hoping to catch out Alberto Moreno, who operated far forward. Hadi Sacko ran in behind him early on and the speedster forced a good save out of Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool took too many touches in the first half. They threatened more in the transitional phases of play, when Leeds lost possession, than when they had long spells of it. Wijnaldum saw his shot saved after Taylor gave the ball away.

Ronaldo Vieira’s tough tackling and fierce tracking of runners was key to the away side’s organization. Early in the second half, Kemar Roofe hit the post from range, then unleashed another stinging shot that forced a save from Mignolet in a period of pressure from Leeds. Liverpool’s most creative player early in the second half was a centre-back, Lucas Leiva, who was invited to move forward with the ball, with a lot of midfielders marked out of the game.

That changed though when Woodburn came on for cautious midfielder Kevin Stewart and the youngster occupied Kyle Bartley, which meant Origi had more space. Georginio Wijnaldum looked better for the substitution too as he appeared more suited to running forward from the middle third, as he did on 72 minutes, slamming the ball against the far post.

Substitutions had changed the game for both sides. While adding a second striker aided Liverpool, Leeds lost their balance when top scorer Chris Wood came on for the hardworking Dallas to partner Souleymane Doukara. Trent Alexander-Arnold got forward more in the second half and the youngster’s cross was turned home by Origi at the near post.

The 21-year-old showed the goalscoring instinct that Leeds had perhaps lacked in the penalty area. That was the only thing separating the Championship side from some of the best players in England and the performance will be a source of encouragement for manager Garry Monk.

The night though belonged to Liverpool’s youngsters, Woodburn in particular. The academy graduate was set up by Wijnaldum to finish the game from close-range late on and deserved his goal after a lively substitute appearance. Whatever happens in his career from now on, that is a moment that he will forever cherish.

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