Diogo Jota continued his fine start to life in red as he grabbed the only goal in what proved to be a hard-fought 1-0 victory at the Amex against Brighton.
Jürgen Klopp made six changes from the side that fell 2-0 to Atalanta on Wednesday, with Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota all returning to the starting XI. Nat Phillips and Taki Minamino also earned a start in Klopp’s lineup, with youngster Neco Williams keeping his place at RB.
Liverpool started the better of the two sides, bossing possession and linking up well in the Brighton half with Salah in particular having a perfect chance to open the scoring early on but a lack of composure saw him spurn the chance.
With this being said the home side proved that they could threaten the make-shift backline as Aaron Connolly, who was slipped in behind by Pascal Gross, wasted a golden 1-on-1 opportunity to open the score as he fired wide of Alisson’s goal.
Although wasteful, the Connolly effort provided the home side with the impetus to get at the Liverpool defence and that they did, with the Irish attacker proving to be the focal point of Brighton’s attacks.
In fact Connolly, who was proving a handful for Liverpool’s defenders, again granted Brighton another golden chance to take the lead as he won a penalty following a moment of madness by Williams at rightback. Neal Maupay stepped up to take the spot kick but fortunately for Liverpool the French front-man fired wired of Alisson’s post. Massive let off.
The missed penalty didn’t faze Brighton who took the game by the scruff of the neck and hounded Liverpool both in and out of possession as they succeeded in not letting the Champions play their usual game.
Liverpool did show why they are the champions however as a quick counter attack saw Salah bobble the ball into the back of the net after being set through on goal by Roberto Firmino.
A long ball hit forward by Alisson found his Brazillian counterpart alone in space. Firmino controlled the long ball beuatifully on his chest before volleying the ball over the Brighton backline for Salah to chase. The Egyptian bore down on goal and bobbled the ball over Matt Ryan, however, unfortunately for the Reds he was judged to be slightly offside and VAR ruled out the goal.
Salah’s chalked off goal proved to be Liverpool’s best attempt of the half as the Reds failed to create any real chances for the remainder of the half, as Brighton finished the stronger of the two sides.
Due to his side’s lack of cohesion in the first half, Klopp made one change at the break, sending on Jordan Henderson for Williams, with Milner moving to rightback to accommodate his returning captain.
The addition of Henderson made an immediate impact to Liverpool’s play as the skipper seemed to provide the impetus and kickstart that his side needed.
Liverpool’s play was sharper as they began to push Brighton back, eventually getting the go ahead goal from the man in form Jota on the hour mark.
Tidy play on the edge of the area saw Salah lay the ball off to the goalscorer as he ran across the Brighton penalty area. The Portugese star jockeyed past a handful of Brighton defenders before releasing a snapshot back across goal and into the bottom right hand corner of Ryan’s net. 1-0.
The game continued to be quite an open contest following the opening goal by Jota but unfortunately for the Reds they would see their injury list grow once again as Milner was was forced off with what looked to be a hamstring injury.
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Liverpool had the ball in the back of the net for a third time in the final 10 minutes as Sadio Mané looked to have doubled the lead, however, a VAR review ruled out yet another Liverpool goal and the score remained 1-0.
Following the disallowed goal Liverpool didn’t looked to threaten Ryan in the Brighton net for the remainder of the game, which looked effective until Brighton won a second penalty of the game for a Robertson foul on Danny Welbeck.
The decision came following a consultation with the monitor, despite the instance in question not appearing to be a clear and obvious error. The spot kick was this time dispatched by Gross, bringing the Seagulls level, which was how the game ended.
Liverpool are next in action on Tuesday night where they will look to confirm their qualification in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League when they welcome Ajax to Anfield.