With Liverpool 2-0 up after 10 minutes on a rainy Wednesday evening at the Amex Stadium, it looked as though the floodgates could open on the pitch just as they had done above it.
Brighton were insistent on playing out from the back and a Liverpool press, carried especially by Naby Keïta and Jordan Henderson, was overturning dangerous possession with ease. Thus arrived goals one and two.
To their credit, Brighton began to string some passes together and started to pose a threat, once they bypassed that Liverpool press. Jürgen Klopp’s side were on the back foot for large parts of the first period and Leandro Trossard smartly slotted to pull a goal back for the hosts.
Nonetheless, Klopp’s substitutions worked perfectly to restore a sense of calm for his side. On his first league start, young Neco Williams had looked defensively stretched too often in the first half and Andrew Robertson came on in his place to lock down the Reds’ left.
Sadio Mané and Fabinho both appeared after an hour, and helped swing the game back in Liverpool’s favour, culminating in a smart near-post header from Mo Salah to make it 3-1.
Had Dan Burn converted a great chance at 2-1, we might have reflected on a poor performance tonight, but the win was secured and we’re still on track for that record Premier League points total.
Here are your ratings:
Ali 5.5 – The least comfortable the Brazilian has looked in goal since his sending off in the reverse fixture.
Trent 6.5 – One of the Reds’ better performers in the first half. Some dodgy passes were coupled with dangerous deliveries after the break.
JoGo 5 – A great performance against Crystal Palace aside, Joe Gomez has failed to recapture his pre-lockdown form since the restart. Very nervy here.
Big Virg 7.5 – Birthday boy made a rare mistake early, but as the game wore on van Dijk showed more signs of ‘Virgiling’ than we had seen since the restart.
Neco 5.5 – Harsh on the youngster on his first full start, perhaps, but Liverpool were vulnerable down his left flank, and Williams’ pass selection was often overly-aggressive. He did, however, make a superb early block to deny Leandro Trossard.
Hendo 8 – Goal was very well taken, and the intensity of his pressing was superb. One complaint is that excessive enthusiasm at times left gaps in the midfield. Unfair, maybe, to single out the skipper for that, though.
Gini 6 – Very poor first half, with touch and passing both off-colour. Improved second half, though, jumping on loose balls. Should have done better with a head from five yards which went the wrong side of the crossbar.
Naby Lad 8.5 – Superb. Won possession expertly before assisting the opener, while he hustled and carried the ball brilliantly throughout. The Guinean was only taken off at the hour because he played a full 90 on Sunday. Man of the match.
Mo 8.5 – Think he was disappointed not to get that hat-trick? To be ultra-critical, Salah did not play with the maturity I praised him for in his man-of-the-match performance against Crystal Palace. However, his two goals were brilliantly taken, and his attacking movement was impossible to deal with.
Bobby 7.5 – Suddenly Liverpool’s No.9 has found some form. Constant danger in first-half, with both on and off-ball intelligence.
Ox 6.5 – A few ‘nearly’ moments for the Ox, who looked more comfortable on the wing than he sometimes does. However, the England international must shoulder some blame for allowing the cross for the Brighton goal, and Sadio Mané did much better in tracking Tariq Lamptey’s impressive counter-runs.
Robbo 7.5 – The Scot just looked more assured and mature than Williams. Assisted one Salah goal and almost found a last-gasp second.
Sadio 7.5 – An instant booking meant that Mané returned a grand total of zero points as captain of my fantasy team, but the Senegalese’s introduction helped restore Liverpool control. The extent to which he scared the Brighton defence is evidenced by two players picking up yellow cards bringing him down to prevent counter-attacks.
Fab 7 – Earned a quick, deserved yellow, but plugged some previously gaping holes in the Liverpool midfield.
Taki 7 – Pressed very intelligently. Impressive.
Milly 6.5 – A superb pass almost slipped Minamino in.
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