Liverpool were made to work hard for all three points by Brighton, with a Mohamed Salah penalty making all the difference at the Amex Stadium.
The Reds were coming into the match on the back of successive defeats, including their first in the Premier League this season. And, it looked like they were still suffering from the hangover of those losses, as they struggled to break down a resolute Brighton defence that restricted them largely to half chances for much of first half.
Liverpool did come close twice, but David Button was barely troubled in the Brighton goal. In the second half though, the visitors took no time in stamping their authority, with Mohamed Salah cleverley deceiving Pascal Gross to win the penalty in the 50th minute. The Egyptian stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, and made no mistake in powering the ball past Button.
GET IN! 🔴🔴
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 12, 2019
Thereafter, Liverpool remained in control of the game, with Brighton threatening on the odd ocassion. In the end, the Merseyside club held on to the slender lead to create a seven-point lead atop the Premier League table, with Manchester City only scheduled to play Wolves on Monday. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
A quiet evening for the most part for Alisson, who mostly had to collect stray balls and distribute the balls from the back, which he did quite well. Had just one save to make all game, but keeping another clean sheet would certainly feel good.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Made himself available after picking up a knock on his ankle during the warm-ups. While he did struggle to cope with the pace of the game early on, Alexander-Arnold braved his injury to neutralise Jurgen Locadia. Not as involved as he usually is going forward, but that was largely down to his delicate fitness situation. A brave performance.
Asked to play in a largely unfamiliar role of a centre-back once again, Fabinho did have his minor positional struggles early on. But, the Brazilian soon found his feet soon enough. Glenn Murray tried his best to bully him, but the Brazilian had the measure of the Brighton front-man.
In the second half, Fabinho produced a fantastic block on Pascal Gross, with Liverpool holding their slim one-goal advantage. A performance completed with consummate ease, one would unlikely have pointed out that he was playing in an alien position by the time the game ended. A decent makeshift solution to the central defensive woes.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
Virgil van Dijk vs Brighton
118 passes completed – most on the pitch
7/8 aerial duels – most on the pitch
Dribbled past 0 times
A defensive colossus ⛔️ pic.twitter.com/RGnlEFS4Ag
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) January 12, 2019
Ensuring Fabinho’s ease and comfort was van Dijk, who was an inspiring leader at the heart of the Liverpool defence on his 50th Reds appearance. His organizational abilities are par excellence, and at one point he screamed his lungs out to get Alexander-Arnold in the right position. Makes his job looks ever so easy, but it really is not.
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
Another player who makes it all look so simple. With Alexander-Arnold not at his fittest, Robertson took it upon himself to drive Liverpool forward, and was the most potent outlet for the visitors. A couple of his inviting crosses deserved to be converted, but the finishing touches were just not timed right. Barely troubled at the back, with the in-form Solly March not getting a look-in at all.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Liverpool’s Mr. Consistent this season, Wijnaldum produced a typically energetic performance on Saturday. But, on this day, the game demanded more from the Dutchman, who lacked imagination and incisiveness in his forward balls. Faultless off the ball, however, there was very little way past him.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
A game of two halves for the Liverpool captain. Henderson looked off the pace in the early running and was uninspiring with his passing. But, the Englishman turned it around in the second half, taking charge of the proceedings and pulling the strings in midfield. Typically worked hard off the ball too. Decent enough, even if he wasn’t at his best all throughout.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6/10
A great chance to cement his place. In the end though, it was an opportunity missed for Shaqiri, who was far from being the bright spark that Liverpool fans have grown accustomed to seeing. Had a great chance to open the scoring for his side, but spurned it. The Swiss did not see the ball that much either, in what ended up being an underwhelming outing for him.
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
Starting in his new no. 10 role once again, Saturday’s outing was a mixed bag for Firmino. While the Brazilian was a busy customer for large parts of the game, he struggled to create space for his teammates with his movement. Never stopped trying though, and he was inches away from troubling Button too.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
It was a momentous occasion for Sadio Mane, who was making his 100th appearance for Liverpool. A lively presence all throughout, the Senegalese winger linked up wonderfully with Firmino and Robertson. But, the end product was severely lacking for him, before he was eventually replaced by Klopp towards the end of the game.
Mohamed Salah: 8/10
Salah started off slowly, with Brighton’s stubborn defending leaving him isolated, as a result of which he often had to drop deep to get some touches. But, after a frustrating first half, he came into his own post the break. Came close moments into the second half before producing the decisive moment of the game.
🇪🇬 Mo Salah vs Brighton
3 chances created – most on the pitch
3/3 dribbles – most on the pitch
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) January 12, 2019
With Pascal Gross marking him, Salah showed tremendous cleverness, dancing past the German before winning the penalty that the fan favourite duly converted. Should have doubled his tally late on, but that was only a minor blemish. Up to 14 goals in the Premier League – no one has scored more than him this season. Some “one season wonder”.
James Milner: 7/10
Milner should have started the game, but did well after replacing Shaqiri. Running the show from the middle of the park, the veteran took charge of asserting control. Could have had an assist, had Salah reacted better to his low ball.
Naby Keita: N/A
On for just five minutes, Keita could have ensured dropped points moments after being introduced, giving the ball away in a dangerous position. But all’s well that ends well.
Divock Origi: N/A
Injury time substitute, Origi barely had time to make any sort of impact.