Salah brace not enough to seal win for Liverpool at Brighton

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Brighton & Hove, England — Some of the Premier League’s top teams took all three points from their trip to Brighton & Hove Albion, especially after falling behind. But Jurgen Klopp’s new-look Liverpool side came close to avenging their 3-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium last season, initially picking themselves off the canvas after going a goal down, only to claw back for a 2-2 draw.

Liverpool — who have conceded the first goal in each of their past five away fixtures — looked like they needed a jolt to life in the early stages. That proved to be the case after Simon Adingra struck the opening goal in the 20th minute and Liverpool were a team in transition. Mohamed Salah’s brace put the visitors ahead at half-time, only for Brighton captain Lewis Dunk to earn his side a share of the points.

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All good teams are a reflection of their manager. Klopp has climbed into the rarefied air of the Premier League elite on the back of a remarkable professional playing career in Germany. In his journey to the top, Klopp’s ability to set up absorbers and “attack the title” as he once rubbed off on his first great Liverpool team and looks set to do so again.

As well as Klopp’s influence on his team, Brighton head coach Roberto Di Gerbi’s fingerprints can be found on the Seagulls’ intricate passing moves and intense pressing. Brighton play their game with a razor-thin margin for error. It’s a tightrope walk that can be startling but once it goes wrong — as it did when they were thrashed 6-1 by Aston Villa last weekend — the fallout can be devastating.

As the first half wore on it felt as if Liverpool lay in wait, patiently searching for the loose blue-and-white thread that, once pulled, would expose Brighton and send them into a downward spiral from which they often struggle to recover. But unlike Villa, this time De Zerbi’s side managed to emerge from the vortex to take a well-deserved point.

Brighton have been a bogey team for Klopp in recent years: Liverpool have registered just one win, drawn three and lost two from their previous six Premier League encounters against them. Asked after the match whether a draw would have been a fair result, he admitted: “I think, unfortunately, yes … it’s a really good team and it’s hard to defend. [against] All their time.” The intensity the competition eventually built is testament to both teams, who found themselves in Europa League action on Thursday with varying enthusiasm. The European exertions of both teams, combined with unseasonably warm conditions, meant the game took some time to get going.

Brighton’s latest star off the production line, Adingra – signed from FC Nordsjaelland last year – was snapped in front of a sleeping Alexis McAllister to intercept Virgil van Dijk’s pass in midfield that woke the contest. Ivory Coast midfielder McAllister leaped in front — who endured a difficult return to the club after moving to Anfield in the summer — to win the ball further up the pitch than he should have been allowed to before taking advantage of goalkeeper Alisson’s wayward position to roll the ball into the net.

The momentum then shifted fully behind Liverpool as they began probing the Brighton back line for a weak point. Unexpectedly, it came in the form of Dunk who tried to block in front of Luis Diaz in the same way Adingra had done earlier, but with the opposite effect. Diaz and Darwin Nunez combined to exploit the space left by the dunk, with Salah easily sweeping the ball into the corner.

Salah doubled his tally six minutes later after another defensive error eventually led to Dominik Soboszlai being handed to a desperate Pascal Gross in the box. The Brighton midfielder can perhaps count himself lucky that the VAR only recommended a penalty for his challenge and not a red card for denying Soboszlai what was a very good scoring chance.

In an ironic twist after their now-infamous VAR trip at Tottenham Hotspur last week, Klopp and his team benefited from VAR not being involved in the second half when a cross bounced off Van Dijk’s thigh and into his arm. The decision left Brighton fans screaming in frustration and chants of “we want a replay” in the wake of Klopp’s midweek comments about Diaz’s disallowed goal at Spurs. It was a decision that de Jarby felt was “a clear punishment.”

Substitute Ryan Gravenbirch missed a golden chance to make it 3-1 moments before Dunk Solly March’s free kick past Alisson to bring Brighton level. If Liverpool’s resilience and mentality kept them in control of the game after an early setback, grabbing a share of the points from Brighton was a reminder that they remain a team every Premier League side should take seriously, regardless of their results this season or whatever. Many star players have left them.

Liverpool’s away form has slowed their progress of late but that should be settled given that tough trips to Newcastle United, Tottenham and Brighton are already behind them this season.

De Zarby’s side, by his own admission, are still getting used to Thursday-Sunday football and are in for a tough fight themselves. The Seagulls are going through a run where they will play teams who have won the European Cup in six consecutive matches. It’s the latest gravity-defying feat from de Zerby’s entertainers as they enter their second international break of the season at European venues.

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