Brighton vs Liverpool: Mohamed Salah’s penalty secures a classic title-chasing victory that ticks off another step


Is it too quickly to begin counting down? Liverpool acquired their stability again this afternoon, recovering from their New Yr stumble, grinding out a 1-Zero win at Brighton and Hove Albion that restores their lead over Manchester Metropolis to seven factors. At the least till Monday evening.

If Liverpool do that 16 extra occasions this season – and even simply 15 – then they elevate the Premier League title this yr. Sure it is just 12 January however that is the time of yr after we cease including video games up and begin ticking them off. The time when efficiency goes out of the window and every little thing is held on outcomes as an alternative. That’s the reason there was a lot jubilation from the away finish at full time, such a transparent sense that the nice enterprise that’s Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool is again on monitor.

This was a basic title-chasing victory: away from dwelling, slender, nervy, by no means in complete management, and reliant on a dollop of contingency to get them over the road. If Liverpool do win it then this might be singled out as one of many hinge moments. When the stumble might have continued, they may have dropped extra factors and let Metropolis make up one other stride in direction of them. That was definitely the way it felt within the first half, as Liverpool struggled to choose their approach across the Brighton defence. However Mohammed Salah gained a penalty early within the second half, transformed it, and now Liverpool can breathe once more. Once they wanted to win greater than ever earlier than, they discovered a approach.

However the different approach to have a look at it’s that we’re not within the run-in but, not even shut. There’s far an excessive amount of soccer left to play for Liverpool to get distracted by the ending line. Efficiency continues to be what issues most. And if Liverpool are to take care of their lead on the prime of the desk then they could must play higher than this. As a result of for a lot of this recreation they appeared pedestrian, and it was solely Salah’s ingenuity and Pascal Gross’ clumsiness that permit them again in. With out that penalty, which just about got here out of nowhere, issues might need gone very in another way.

So how a lot does it matter this night that Liverpool’s first half was unimpressive? As a result of if Liverpool wished an on the spot response within the first half, the possibility to attract a line beneath Manchester Metropolis and Wolves as rapidly as doable, they didn’t get it. You might say that Liverpool have been affected person, unflustered, unhurried, shutting the context out of their minds and enjoying their recreation. Or you may say that they have been gradual out of the blocks and by no means made up for it.

As a result of the sample of the primary half was clear rapidly sufficient. Brighton dug in, their 4-5-1 immaculately organized: the defence not too removed from David Button in objective, the midfield not too far in entrance of them. There was no area in between the strains, and even much less in behind the again 4. So despite the fact that Liverpool had all 4 of their prime forwards enjoying, the massive three plus Xherdan Shaqiri, the one approach in was down the edges.

This made for soccer that was methodical, predictable and preventable, not precisely the traits that make Liverpool so compelling at their greatest. And for a lot of the primary half they did look uncharacteristically monotonous. They’d simply go backward and forward, one full-back to the opposite, Jordan Henderson hitting one telegraphed cross after one other. They made two half-chances, each from full-back crosses. First Andy Robertson’s cross, which Roberto Firmino couldn’t get fairly sufficient on. Then Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross, from the alternative facet, that Shaqiri might solely skim his header the unsuitable facet of the submit.

Mohamed Salah strikes his penalty effort as he scores for Liverpool (EPA)

With each ticking minute Liverpool appeared worse, as if the strain and the onus on them to win was beginning to weigh them down. And despite the fact that Brighton have been camped into their very own half, blissful to defend, they’d a menace on the break because of Jurgen Locadia. He began a transfer that noticed Glenn Murray escape stand-in centre-back Fabinho however head harmlessly extensive. Going into half-time it felt as if these openings would begin to come extra usually, the upper the stakes, the extra Liverpool needed to put in.

However then one transient collision of our bodies modified every little thing, and immediately all of the fears and frustrations of the primary half have been burnt away. Salah wriggled his approach into the penalty space and acquired the damaging facet of Pascal Gross. Gross grabbed his arm, swung out a leg, and ultimately did sufficient to journey Salah up. It was a transparent foul, however a preventable one, and a easy penalty. Salah completed with the emphasis of a person who had not scored a objective for 2 weeks and was uninterested in ready.

Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring for Liverpool from the penalty spot in opposition to Brighton (Getty)

With that objective the dynamic modified. Liverpool had the sport the place they wished it now, and Brighton not did. They have been pressured to begin attacking for the primary time, though that by no means comes simply to them and so they by no means actually appeared like their hearts have been in it. Dale Stephens fired extensive from distance, Locadia pressured Allison to tip one around the submit, however that was it. None of their assaults ever appeared like coming to something.

Chris Hughton appeals for a choice in favour of his Brighton facet (Motion Photos by way of Reuters)

As soon as James Milner got here on for Shaqiri Liverpool have been again in management, and in reality have been far likelier to double their lead. Wijnaldum and Firmino went simply extensive, however Liverpool by no means wanted a second objective. They’d the three factors, which is what they got here for, or at the least most of it

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