By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Liverpool picked up their first win of 2019 after they beat Brighton 1-0 away in the Premier League match at the American Express Community Stadium.
Mohamed Salah got the only goal of the game, scoring a second half penalty to secure all three points for the travelling Merseysiders. The Egyptian wasn’t the only player making headlines however, as both Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk made landmark appearances for the Reds – making their 100th and 50th appearances respectively.
Due to an injury to Dejan Lovren in the FA Cup, Jürgen Klopp was forced to start Fabinho in the centre of defence alongside van Dijk. Xherdan Shaqiri was the only other change made to the starting lineup that faced Manchester City, returning to the XI in place of James Milner.
The opening minutes of the game seemed to set the tone for the match, with Brighton siting back and defending which allowed Liverpool to rack up the lion-share of possession.
The travelling Reds were knocking the ball round the pitch well, able to advance with ease into the final third. Unfortunately, their possession didn’t lead to much as they seemed to lack quality when it came to the final ball – managing to create three attempts in the first half, but unable to direct a single one on target.
Liverpool will look back at one glorious chance in the opening minutes that could have given them the lead. Mané burst down the left wing before slipping in a low cross into the box for an onrushing Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian was stretching for the ball and was unable to direct it on target. Shaqiri also almost opened the scoring, climbing to meet a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross, but only able to flash it wide of the post.
Fortunately for Klopp, the start of the second half proved to be more exciting than the first, with his side mustering their first attempt on target before winning a penalty in the 48th minute.
Salah was brought down by Pascal Gross and stepped up to take it himself.
Brighton goalkeeper David Button chose the correct way to dive, but was unable to keep out the red-hot Egyptian, as he blasted his effort in the top right corner of the net. The goal sees Salah return to the top of the goal-scoring charts alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane. After 50 minutes of game time, the Reds were in the lead, and the Amex fell silent.
After going behind, the Brighton game-plan almost immediately shifted. Chris Hughton’s men began to offer an attacking threat as opposed to sitting back and defending like they seemed content with in the first half – Forcing Alisson to make his first contribution of the game, diving low to deny Jürgen Locadia.
Despite the added attacking intent by the Seagulls, they were unable to breach a Liverpool defence which has only conceded 10 so far in the league, meaning the Reds travelled back up to the North of England with all three points.
Liverpool’s attention will now turn to Crystal Palace, as the London side will travel up to Anfield on January 19th. Having just come through a busy Christmas period, Klopp will no doubt relish having a week to prepare for his next game – the longest recovery period his side have had since mid November.