Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool FC
Amex Stadium, Brighton
Brighton were hoping to prey on Liverpool’s dire recent away record against newly promoted sides. Liverpool were looking for their dire away record against newly promoted sides to not continue.
So what does Jurgen Klopp do? He plays a 3-4-3 with two midfielders at centre-back. But he also plays a little Brazilian on the side, who has magic in his feet.
Brighton lineup (4-5-1) – Ryan; Bruno (c), Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Stephens, Propper, Gross, Brown, Knockaert; Murray
Subs: Krul, Goldson, Schelotto, Kayal, Hemed, March, Izquierdo
Liverpool lineup (3-4-3) – Mignolet; Emre Can, Lovren, Wijnaldum; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Milner, Robertson; Coutinho, Salah, Firmino
Subs: Karius, Klavan, Grujic, Sturridge, Mane, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke
The game settled into a pattern very early, with Brighton happy to allow the Reds to have possession and frustrate Jurgen Klopp’s side. Roberto Firmino missed a free header in the box early in the game, but that was about the only chance the Reds had in the opening 25 minutes.
Glenn Murray had a golden opportunity to put Brighton up after good work from Izzy Brown on the left side, but he was put under pressure by Gini Wijnaldum before skying his shot.
Liverpool’s opener came in the 30th minute, courtesy Emre Can. The German had the run on the Brighton defence and met Coutinho’s corner perfectly, to give Matt Ryan no chance in the Seagulls’ goal. 78 seconds later, there was double the joy for the Reds, as a trademark, Klopp goal came to fruition.
Mo Salah got the ball in midfield and was quick to run at the Brighton defence, before setting off Coutinho down the left flank. The little no. 10 put in a delicious cross that Firmino was only too happy to tap into the net.
The rest of the half followed the same pattern as Liverpool kept the ball well, and Brighton seemed to lack any energy or verve.
HALF-TIME: BRIGHTON 0-2 LIVERPOOL
The second-half started with a visibly higher tempo, as Brighton looked to press on a little more. They should have pulled a goal back with Murray, but his shot from point-blank range was somehow saved by Mignolet, and that set the Reds off again, as Coutinho won a header in midfield to set Salah away. The King of Egypt ran straight at the Brighton back four, before protecting it in the face of four Brighton players, and then laying it straight into the path of Firmino, to score his second.
That was immediately followed by a penalty for Brighton, for a supposed push by Henderson on Shane Duffy. Calling it soft would be exaggerating how minimal the contact actually was. But Murray didn’t care as he blasted the ball into the top corner.
Brighton had a second wind after that, as they attacked with purpose but lacked quality. Both Salah and Coutinho soon had chances to score a fourth for Liverpool in quick succession, but couldn’t find that finishing touch.
Murray had a big chance with 18 minutes to go, as Dunk headed a Gross free-kick into his path, but he only managed to hook the ball wide of Mignolet’s goal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain got himself ten minutes of action as Klopp made his first substitution in the 80th minute, taking off Salah, who only had an assist on the day.
With five minutes to go, Mignolet was forced into another good save to deny Izquierdo.
Coutinho then won himself a late free-kick with some brilliant close control. He then moved on to place the free kick underneath the Brighton wall and leave Ryan with no chance, and seal the three points for the Reds.
Coutinho again played a big part in the Reds’ fifth goal on the day, as he ran at the heart of the Brighton defense and looked to curl one into the corner, but the ball went into the net only with intervention from Dunk who put the ball past the hapless Ryan.
A little magician with his wand listening to everything he told it.
A bunch of happy Reds. A happy German manager. Roll on that European night at Anfield!