Liverpool close gap on Man City with Brighton win

Liverpool closed the gap on Manchester City back to three points with a 2-0 victory over Brighton, who now have lost five games on the bounce.

Jurgen Klopp’s men took the lead in surreal fashion when the brilliant Luis Diaz bravely headed home and got poleaxed by Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez in the immediate aftermath. The Liverpool forward walked away with no serious injury and despite a VAR review Sanchez’s challenge was deemed worthy of a red card.

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Luis Diaz is clattered by Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez as he puts Liverpool in front at the Amex

Brighton, who started brightly but faded, should have equalised just after half-time but Leandro Trossard skied an effort over the bar from close range. That proved a costly miss as Mohamed Salah netted the important second goal on 61 minutes from the penalty spot after Yves Bissouma was penalised for handball by referee Mike Dean. Salah now has 20 goals for the Premier League season and has hit that milestone in four of his last five seasons with the club.

Despite that Trossard chance, Graham Potter’s men struggled for any rhythm in the attacking third and failed to score for the fourth time in their last five Premier League games. They have now won just three of their last 24 matches in all competitions (90 minutes only) as the pressure starts to increase on their manager.

Player ratings

Brighton: Sanchez (5), Lamptey (6), Veltman (6), Dunk (6), Cucurella (6), Bissouma (6), Alzate (5), Mac Allister (6), March (5), Trossard (5), Maupay (6)

Subs: Lallana (N/A), Welbeck (6), Gross (6)

Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (8), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (7), Fabinho (7), Henderson (7), Keita (6), Salah (7), Mane (7), Diaz (9)

Subs: Thiago (7), Jota (7)

Man of the match: Luis Diaz

Attention in the title race now turns to Monday Night Football where Manchester City can extend the gap back to six points with a win at Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Monday 14th March 7:00pm

Kick off 8:00pm

Diaz scores but should Sanchez have seen red?

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Luis Diaz is clattered by Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez as he puts Liverpool in front at the Amex

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Luis Diaz receives treatment after scoring for Liverpool at Brighton

The opening goal for Liverpool should have been a moment of pure ecstasy for both Diaz and the travelling Liverpool supporters – instead there was a surreal hush around The Amex as Sanchez’s challenge in wiping out the Liverpool forward was quite sickening to watch live.

It didn’t look much better from the replays it has to be said, to the extent that some Brighton fans around the press box winced at the sight of the replayed Sanchez challenge.

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VAR, with Stuart Attwell on duty, did review the incident but decided the goalkeeper’s high tackle on the Colombian wasn’t even worthy of sending referee Dean to the monitor to assess whether serious foul play had occurred. Thankfully Diaz wasn’t badly injured and gave Brighton the runaround for the remainder of the game but quite how the referees came to such a conclusion was quite baffling.

Diaz spark burning bright for Liverpool

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Luis Diaz heads Liverpool ahead at Brighton

You’d have been hard pushed to find a single soul who thought the arrival of Luis Diaz would push even Sadio Mane and Salah into the shade. But that is the reality as the signing from Porto has adapted to life under Klopp so quickly and is currently Liverpool’s most dangerous attacking player.

He was the game’s outstanding player at the Amex with a display full of high energy, sublime quality and a huge amount of bravery – as seen by his opening goal that he put himself on the line for.

It took him a while to warm up with Klopp visibly encouraging him to track back after losing a duel with Tariq Lamptey. It was like Klopp’s words lit a fire under Diaz, who ripped the game apart from that moment.

Some of the highlights of his display was a 50-yard lung-bursting run back to nick the ball off Lamptey at the end of the first half and an equally as destructive 50-yard run forward that ended with a ridiculous pass to Salah, who should have doubled his tally for the afternoon. His running power is extraordinary.

As January transfer window signings go, they don’t get much better than this one.

What’s next?

Brighton will next face Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday March 16 at 7.30pm.

Liverpool’s next Premier League fixture will be against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal on the same day at 8.15pm, live on Sky Sports.

Wednesday 16th March 7:30pm

Kick off 8:15pm

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