Liverpool vs Brighton and Hove Albion. Premier League.
Highlights and report as Liverpool maintain their perfect start to the season
Sunday 26 August 2018 07:01, UK
Mohamed Salah's 23rd-minute strike proved to be the difference as Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brighton at Anfield.
Salah scored the only goal of the game - his 29th in 29 appearances for Liverpool at Anfield in all competitions - side-footing a first-time effort past Mat Ryan in the first half.
Jurgen Klopp's side were far from their best and they had Alisson to thank late on when he pushed Pascal Gross' header past the post, but they held to maintain a 16-month undefeated league run at home and secure their best start to a Premier League season in five years.
Liverpool, who were unbeaten in each of their last 22 Premier League games before the game, started in confident fashion. Salah combined with Sadio Mane, who failed to hit the target with an effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Gomez (6), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Milner (7), Wijnaldum (8), Keita (6), Salah (7), Mane (7), Firmino (6).
Subs: Henderson (6), Sturridge (6), Matip (n/a).
Brighton: Ryan (7), Montoya (7), Duffy (7), Balogun (6), Bong (7), Knockaert (6), Stephens (6), Propper (6), March (6), Bissouma (5), Murray (7).
Subs: Locadia (6), Jahanbakhsh (6), Gross (6).
Man of the match: Georginio Wijnaldum
Brighton were trying to stay compact but they were struggling to keep the hosts at bay. Roberto Firmino made an excellent run to the near post to meet Andrew Robertson's cross. The Brazil international made good contact with his header but he could not beat Ryan, who clawed the ball away from goal.
The hosts continued to pile the pressure on and Trent Alexander-Arnold was the next to go close, clipping the crossbar with a free-kick and they finally made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute through Salah after Yves Bissouma lost possession 15 yards outside his own area.
The hosts quickly sprang into action as James Milner picked out Firmino and the Brazilian laid the ball off for Salah, who produced a clinical finish to pick out the bottom corner via the inside of the post.
Brighton almost snatched an equaliser early in the second half. Glenn Murray bundled his way into the penalty area and his cross was cleared only as far as Anthony Knockaert, who sliced his shot wide of the far post.
Liverpool named the same starting XI in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2017.
There were two changes for Brighton from their win over Manchester United as Leon Balogun and Yves Bissouma came into the side to make their first Premier League starts in place of Lewis Dunk and Pascal Gross.
Liverpool were struggling for rhythm but they nearly grabbed a second when Shane Duffy almost turned Robertson's cross past his own goalkeeper, while Alexander-Arnold had an opportunity to wrap up victory five minutes from time but his left-footed shot was deflected wide.
Alisson was then called into action, producing a vital save as he parried wide Gross' header to ensure he became only the third Liverpool goalkeeper in the last 51 seasons alongside Bruce Grobbelaar, Pepe Reina and Simon Mignolet (twice) to keep a clean sheet in the first three league matches of a campaign.
It was not the easiest of games for Liverpool but Wijnaldum produced a solid performance in the middle of the park. He kept things neat and tidy, completing 75 of his 76 passes in the game with a 98.7 per cent accuracy - his one misplaced pass came in the 80th minute. With Henderson getting closer and closer to full match fitness, Klopp will have some difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks with Wijnaldum in this kind of form.
Notes for Southgate Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez both started in Liverpool’s defence, helping Klopp’s side to a third straight clean sheet in the Premier League. Alexander-Arnold, who picked up a booking for a cynical foul on Jurgen Locadia, was also a threat at the other end of the pitch, clipping the crossbar with a free-kick. Jordan Henderson got another 23 minutes from the bench as he continued his comeback after his exploits at the World Cup, while Daniel Sturridge also got 10 minutes from the bench.
There were calls for a Liverpool penalty as Brighton goalkeeper Ryan clattered into Firmino as he came for Bissouma's wild, high clearance but referee Chris Kavanagh ruled it was the Liverpool player who had fouled the goalkeeper.
Liverpool will be live on Sky Sports next weekend when they travel to Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday. Brighton will be in action in midweek when they face Southampton in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday before hosting Fulham at the Amex Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.