Salah’s hat trick lifts Liverpool over Leeds in thriller

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, right, celebrates after he scored his side's fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Leeds United, at the Anfield stadium, in Liverpool, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (Shaun Botterill, Pool via AP)

LIVERPOOL, England — Mohamed Salah converted an 88th-minute penalty to complete his hat trick and secure Liverpool a thrilling 4-3 win over Leeds in a wobbly start to its English Premier League title defence on Saturday.

Leeds came from behind three times as the promoted side — managed by storied Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa — took the game to the champions at an empty Anfield.

Just when the visitors looked like claiming a point, new signing Rodrigo — on as a substitute — fouled Fabinho in the area and Salah sidefooted home the resulting spot kick.

The Egypt forward opened the scoring in the fourth minute, also from the penalty spot after a handball, to ensure he has netted in the first game of a Premier League for the fourth straight year.

Jack Harrison grabbed Leeds’ first equalizer in the 12th minute after controlling a searching ball forward, cutting inside, and firing a low shot past Alisson.

Virgil van Dijk regained the lead for Liverpool with a header from a corner in the 20th, only to fail to cut out a long pass 10 minutes later, allowing Patrick Bamford to slot home a finish.

Salah gave Liverpool a halftime lead with a fierce shot high into the net in the 33rd, but Leeds continued to bravely go toe-to-toe and equalized through Mateusz Klich in the 58th.

Salah had the final say, though, with his second penalty of the game.

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