Crysencio Summerville stuns Anfield as Leeds leave Liverpool in disarray

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

There are reasons why Crysencio Summerville has no memories of Leeds’ previous win at Anfield. For starters, he was not born. Some 21 years after Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer delivered a triumph for David O’Leary’s team, the 20-year-old conjured a victory that did not just make history. It made his manager’s position more secure and Liverpool’s stuttering, spluttering start to the season still worse.

Both Jesse Marsch and Leeds had said he retained the board’s backing in a troubled time, but it is easier for their powerbrokers to endorse the American after a run of four successive defeats was halted with a stirring, stunning win. The supporters who had barracked Marsch at Leicester backed his side and a hugely committed display came with an unexpected reward: Summerville reacted quickest when the ball bounced off Patrick Bamford and showed preternatural calm to prod a shot past Alisson. Marsch had trusted the youngster to replace the injured Luis Sinisterra and how his faith was justified.

In the process, he conquered fortress Anfield. This was Liverpool’s first home defeat in 30 league games, a first with fans present since 2017. And, while it is sandwiched by the achievement of reaching the Champions League’s knockout stages, it made this a dreadful week on domestic duty. Defeats to Nottingham Forest and Leeds, each kicking off in the relegation zone, make it less likely Liverpool will have Champions League commitments again next season.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

They found a nemesis in a man who had endured a traumatic time on his last trip to Anfield. Illan Meslier conceded six goals in February, in a game that ushered Marcelo Bielsa towards the exit. If a return threatened to have the same consequences for Marsch, Meslier prevented Liverpool from finding a winner before Summerville instead turned decider. Meslier could have conceded inside the first 40 seconds but the telling drama came at the end, not the start; in an error-strewn game, Liverpool’s mistakes proved most costly.

They could rue an awful pass from Joe Gomez for Rodrigo’s early opener, the way their midfield malfunctioned, especially defensively, and their profligacy. Mohamed Salah scored a sixth goal in three home games against Anfield, but Leeds’ regular tormentor could not muster a second goal from any of his seven shots, and he was denied by one of Meslier’s better saves, while Darwin Nunez was thwarted when his 25-yard effort was tipped over the bar.

But his finishing was erratic. The £64 million man seemed racked by indecision when found by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a glorious diagonal pass in the first half. When Salah latched on to a miskick by Liam Cooper, making a second major blunder of the night, and he gifted Nunez a glorious chance, the Uruguayan could not beat Meslier. It came amid a storm. The last half-hour felt a bombardment, as Liverpool ended with 22 shots, and yet only one went in. Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp’s search for a system that gives solidity continues. Liverpool were far too open. There was a frantic air to proceedings highlighted both sides’ commitment to high-speed football, but a shared shoddiness and a difficulty in defending.

It began with a continuation of unwanted trends. For the 12th time in 16 league games, Liverpool conceded first. They only trailed for 10 minutes as Leeds extended their unhappy habit of losing leads.

Each showed a self-destructive streak in an opening of two comically bad back passes, each leaving a goalkeeper stranded in no-man’s land, though only one brought a goal. Gomez seemed to have done the difficult part by dispossessing Aaronson, but he had not looked to see Alisson before passing; the goalkeeper slipped and Rodrigo was given an open goal. Liverpool, who should have conceded in the third minute to Ajax, did at the same stage to Leeds.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

But United were reprieved still earlier after a similar mishap. As Meslier charged out of his box, Cooper headed the ball past him. Salah scooped a shot from an acute angel and it took an outstanding goal-line clearance from Pascal Struijk to prevent Leeds from going behind inside the first minute. Instead, they soon led.

Liverpool levelled courtesy of their two finest players. Salah hooked in a volley from Andy Robertson’s cross with Meslier, having missed the previous centre, not able to recover.

But Leeds showed attacking intent in a game that was more basketball than football. It suited the energetic, excellent Aaronsen and Leeds had twin chances to restore their advantage. Two of Marsch’s Salzburg charges almost combined for a beauty, Rasmus Kristensen crossing for Aaronsen to crash a volley against the bar. Then the unmarked Jack Harrison drilled a shot at Alisson.

Rodrigo’s return to scoring form was welcome but he limped off. The substitute Bamford’s quest for a belated first goal of 2021 included a long-range shot Alisson held, but a terrible touch cost him a clearer opening. It seemed to signify that Leeds’ opportunity of victory had gone. Summerville had other ideas and ebullient visitors borrowed a taunt aimed at them, chorusing “Leeds are falling apart again.” The club anthem “Marching On Together” rang around Anfield and Marsch goes on, too.x