An emotional Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool’s “brilliant” 3-0 win at Leeds had been completely overshadowed by Harvey Elliott sustaining a dislocated ankle on only his third Premier League start.
The 18-year-old is facing several months on the sidelines having been badly injured in a challenge by the Leeds defender Pascal Struijk. Elliott was discharged from hospital in Leeds on Sunday night and Liverpool said he would undergo surgery in the coming days.
Both the Leeds manager, Marcelo Bielsa, and owner, Andrea Radrizzani, defended Struijk and insisted the injury was accidental, although the substitute received a straight red card from the referee, Craig Pawson, for serious foul play.
Liverpool medical staff reset Elliott’s ankle while he was on the pitch and the midfielder posted a message on Instagram thanking people for their support while he was en route to hospital. But Klopp, visibly upset in his post-match interview with Sky, said he was struggling to take any positives from an otherwise highly impressive win.
The Liverpool manager said: “That is one of the few Instagram posts I love if that is the case and he did that already, as it is a sign he is not in much pain. We all saw the ankle was not in the right place any more. The medical department put it in the right place again, which is really important to do as quickly as possible, but there is not a lot of good things to say. It is a bad injury. We have to wait for further examinations and scans.”
Klopp added: “We will be there for him and we will wait for him. He is a top, top player. We played a really good game until Harvey had to go; the whole team was shocked and we lost rhythm. That is normal, human. I spoke to the boys afterwards, we have to speak a little bit about the football, but Harvey overshadows it.”
Bielsa insisted Struijk had not committed a malicious challenge and had won the ball before landing on Elliott’s ankle. “Pascal recovered the ball,” he said. “The action to get the ball wasn’t an infraction but I have the feeling that the movement of the rest of his body after he recovered the ball made him hit Elliott.
“I am totally sure there was no bad intention. These types of recoveries of the ball are frequent. The difference here was Pascal’s speed and power hit the opponent and that caused the injury. I regret dearly that such a young player who was playing at a high level was interrupted through this. I hope he is able to get back.”
Radrizzani concurred: “The accident was hard for him and I wish the boy full recovery – hopefully he can get back soon – but this is part of football. If you watch the video you see that Struijk slide with the left foot on him and it was accidental. It was not a premeditated injury. The evaluation from the referee was wrong. It is really difficult to take a red card like that.”
Mohamed Salah set Liverpool on course for a comfortable victory with his 100th Premier League goal before Fabinho, who would have missed the game had the Brazilian Football Association not dropped its demand over the five-day ineligibility rule, and Sadio Mané struck in the second half.
“This is the third time we played them and this was the most convincing performance,” Klopp said. “We scored nice goals but we should have had more clearcut chances. Three-nil is brilliant but we know we have room for improvement.”