Liverpool, back in action after winning their first title in 30 years, led three times but were pegged back on each occasion by Marcelo Bielsa’s fearless side before this superb match was settled by hat-trick hero Mohamed Salah’s spot-kick.
Leeds looked to be leaving Anfield with a fully deserved point only for new £30m striker Rodrigo, on as a substitute, to produce a shocking challenge on Fabinho in the 88th minute, leaving Salah to give Liverpool victory after a serious scare.
Salah made it a nightmare start for last season’s Championship winners when he drilled home a penalty in the fourth minute after his shot was handled by another Leeds new boy, Germany defender Robin Koch.
Leeds produced the perfect response as Jack Harrison drilled a low right-foot shot past Alisson only for poor defending to allow Virgil van Dijk to restore Liverpool’s advantage as he headed in Andy Robertson’s corner.
Van Dijk was badly at fault when he gifted Patrick Bamford Leeds’ second before a searing strike from Salah completed the scoring in a chaotic first half.
In a game which also contained four disallowed goals, Leeds were not to be brushed aside and were level again after 66 minutes when a perfect first touch and volley from Mateusz Klich flashed past Alisson.
Man of the match Salah had the final word, however, after that reckless late challenge from Rodrigo.
Liverpool got the job done courtesy of Salah’s late penalty but this was an uncharacteristically sloppy display from the champions that relied on that Rodrigo challenge to get three points.
Salah was in imperious mood up front but elsewhere Leeds were able to hurry Liverpool out of their stride and run through their midfield in a manner which would have disturbed manager Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool were also occasionally shambolic at the back, cut open far too easily with even the normally unflustered Van Dijk knocked out of his stride, committing an awful error for Leeds’ second goal, while Trent Alexander-Arnold had a game he will want to forget.
Alexander-Arnold was rescued by the offside flag when he bizarrely headed Harrison’s lob into his own net and he will lead Liverpool’s relief at getting three points.
In attack, though, Liverpool have players such as Salah who can rescue them from any hazardous situation and so it proved again here.