Liverpool capitalised on Manchester City’s dropped points at Molineux to go clear of the Blues in the Premier League on Saturday, beating Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah’s second goal of the season was enough to separate the two teams, a lack of clinical finishing from the home side preventing them having the game sewn up before the final whistle.
Still, a third straight win for Liverpool who are yet to concede a league goal so far this season. If such a fixture was a ‘test of champions mentality’, then they passed with flying colours.
Here are our winners and losers from the game:
Liverpool fans with heart conditions
As Loris Karius was shipped off to Besiktas, his replacement Alisson was busy sending Brighton attackers back to the South Coast.
One delicate flick over the head of onrushing Knockaert was enough to make the heart of anyone in red skip a beat, let alone Jurgen Klopp himself. Klopp explained post-match that he wasn’t too keen on such antics but admitted that he’d never had a Brazilian goalkeeper before.
Action Images via Reuters/Jason CairnduffWhat the German will certainly be keen on is Alisson repeating the sort of save he made in the dying minutes, sprawling low to his left to beat away Pascal Gross’ late header – guaranteeing Liverpool the three points.
Despite impressive heavily with his feet against Crystal Palace the Monday prior, Alisson has had a fairly low-key start to his Liverpool career in terms of saves.
Gross gave him the chance to amend that, the Brazilian doing a little bit more to prove he’s worth the £60 million Liverpool stumped up for him this summer.
Although managing the losing side, it’s possible to suggest that Chris Hughton was the more satisfied of the two managers at full time.
Having seen their side lose 5-1 at home and 4-0 away to Liverpool last season, Brighton fans had reason to expect the worse as they travelled North.
REUTERS/Peter PowellThat they weren’t on the end of a similar hammering this time around will come as good news to Hughton who hasn’t seen the confidence of his side shattered after beating Manchester United.
KEY STAT: Of Liverpool’s 22 shots, only 8 were on target
It’s true that the gap between the two teams could have been wider, one Mat Ryan save from Roberto Firmino standing out but that Brighton weathered the early storm after conceding is credit to them.
Gross’ header was the big chance and on another day it goes in with Brighton walking away with a point. This time it didn’t. However, the Seagulls will endure worse losses this season.
You’ve got to feel for young Yves Bissouma, victim to the most James Milner of tackles.
With Brighton having kept Liverpool at bay for the first 20 minutes, the visitors were looking to settle into the game and cause the Reds some problems of their own.
Unfortunately for Bissouma, Milner had other ideas. Leading the midfield press alone, the veteran Englishman went launching towards the 21-year-old as he picked up possession inside his own half.
Action Images via Reuters/Jason CairnduffA perfectly timed tackle sent the ball to Firmino, who set up a chance for Salah to roll the ball into the bottom corner.
Whilst anyone can be victim to Liverpool’s intense pressing game, it’s an incident that will likely revolve around Bissouma’s head for the next week before he gets a chance to right his wrong.
For a player as naturally gifted as Georginio Wijnaldum, it’s bizarre that he doesn’t involve himself in the game more often at times.
Too often he’s at the bottom of Liverpool’s ‘passes completed list’ despite being at the heart of the team in central midfield.
That changed on Saturday, with Wijnaldum again impressing in the number six role – especially on the ball.
REUTERS/Peter PowellNot misplacing a pass in the first half (46/46), the Dutchman only let one go astray in the second.
Finishing on 75/76 passes, Wijnaldum’s more active involvement in Liverpool’s build-up play allowed them to retain control of the game and keep Brighton penned back for large parts.
With Jordan Henderson and Fabinho champing at the bit to return to the side, this was exactly the performance Wijnaldum needed to keep his place.