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Soccer-Salah hits hat-trick as Liverpool outgun impressive Leeds

LIVERPOOL, England, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick, including two penalties, as Liverpool began their Premier League title defence with a hugely entertaining 4-3 win over promoted Leeds United, who had fought back from behind three times.

Juergen Klopp’s side grabbed a fourth minute lead after referee Michael Oliver harshly ruled that Leeds’ debutant German defender Robin Koch had handled a Salah shot and the Egyptian blasted home the spot-kick.

But eight minutes later Jack Harrison brought Leeds level with a fine solo goal, picking the ball up on the left-flank and cutting inside, skipping past Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, before drilling into the bottom corner.

Liverpool restored their lead in the 20th minute and this time Leeds had only themselves to blame, leaving the obvious threat of Virgil van Dijk unchallenged with the towering Dutchman heading home an Andy Robertson corner.

But Marcelo Bielsa’s side, back in the top flight after a 16-year absence, showed their resolve again with Patrick Bamford slotting home after Van Dijk had uncharacteristically failed to deal with a ball over the top, his casual attempt to control the ball finding the Leeds striker with keeper Alisson out of position.

Salah, sporting a new short hair-cut, blasted Liverpool back in front, 12 minutes before the break, when he pounced on an attempted header clear from Pascal Struijk with a first-time shot which gave Illan Meslier no chance.

But for a third time Leeds hit back --- Helder Costa’s low ball into the box found Polish midfielder Mateusz Klich whose deft touch earned him space for a low drive past Alisson to make it 3-3.

Van Dijk had the ball in the net, blasting in from close range after a free kick only for it to be ruled out for a foul by substitute Curtis Jones on Koch.

But Liverpool secured the points in the 88th minute with another Salah penalty after Rodrigo Moreno clumsily brought down Fabino. (Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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