Liverpool continued their relentless pursuit of a Premier League points record with victory over Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
The newly-crowned champions looked on course to secure three more points with ease when they went two up inside eight minutes as Brighton, with sights set on Premier League safety, made a nightmare start.
Naby Keita robbed Davy Propper in a dangerous position to set up Mohamed Salah before Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson swiftly swept home a superb second from 20 yards.
Brighton, however, fought back with real spirit and fully deserved to pull a goal back when Leandro Trossard fired a crisp finish past Liverpool keeper Alisson from the impressive Tariq Lamptey’s cross.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stopped Brighton’s progress with some astute substitutions and a corner from one, Andrew Robertson, was headed in by Salah for his 19th league goal of the season.
Brighton manager Graham Potter, whose side are edging towards preserving their top-flight status, were left to rue those opening minutes while Liverpool – with 92 – close in on Manchester City’s 100-point Premier League landmark.
Liverpool have now won 30 of their 34 Premier League games this season (drawn two, lost two); this is the fastest any side has ever reached 30 wins in a season in the history of the English Football League.
Liverpool march relentlessly on
Liverpool had their uncomfortable moments in this game and their defending lacked its usual assurance in the face of a spirited Brighton response to those two early goals but in the end, as on so many occasions, they simply carried too much firepower and quality.
Klopp’s pressing demands were in evidence as Brighton paid the price for a risky possession plan near their own goal early on and in Salah they have a reliable goal machine who is a proven world class match-winner.
Some of Liverpool’s players will want to make an impact before the end of the season, even with the club’s first title in 30 years already won, and Keita was highly impressive for an hour before his substitution while teenager Neco Williams, given his first Premier League start in an unaccustomed position of left-back, had some uncomfortable moments but will be all the better for this experience.
Williams was replaced by Robertson at the interval but this was not so much a reflection of his performance but more Klopp not wanting to take any chances with the Welsh youngster on a yellow card.
Liverpool may not have been quite at their intense, irresistible best since clinching title, which is perfectly understandable.
However, they will to win, quality and sheer belief remains and they still have more history in their sights before the end of this stellar campaign.
Brighton can take encouragement
Brighton’s impressive form since the season’s re-start means they are now close to Premier League safety – but they have had two harsh lessons at home in the last week, first from Manchester United and now from Liverpool.
It will have been disappointing for manager Graham Potter but he will take heart from the manner in which Brighton responded to conceding two goals in the first eight minutes that would have seen many teams sink without trace against this Liverpool side.
Brighton picked themselves up and gave Liverpool some real problems before they ran out of steam and ideas in the second half and Salah wrapped up the points for the champions.
There was still much to admire from Brighton’s play, particularly teenage defender Lamptey, who was a real threat down the right flank and the quality of Trossard, whose goal was a masterpiece of technique and provides Potter’s side with a real threat.
It may have been another home defeat but Potter’s policies look certain to see Brighton still in the Premier League next term.
Man of the match – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
‘It’s my responsibility’ – what they said
Brighton manager Graham Potter speaking to Match of the Day: “Its not an ideal start and it’s my responsibility – I asked them to play that way, the decision making could be better but they showed personality to claw back into the game. We created chances before scoring a really good goal. We tried to play, we went toe-to-toe and there were lots of positive performances.
“The scoreline can affect you but if you analyse the chances we had they were good chances. They are a top side who can hurt you, with unbelievable players everywhere. I’m proud of the players, they stuck with it and they played a good game.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaking to Match of the Day: “I saw two very good teams, both trying to play football. They had a brave formation and set up but we had a super solution for that. Our high press was outstanding but when we lost the ball in the wrong moment it was really difficult.
“They deserved the goal so we had to adjust a few things like our protection and position in midfield and it helped. The beginning was outstanding and the end was good again. I couldn’t respect more what Graham [Potter] is doing here – they made it a really tough game.”
On Neco Williams: “The yellow card was the only reason [he came off]. He was good but I cannot ask a 19-year-old not to make another challenge on a yellow card. We asked a lot, we put him on the wrong side and asked him for a really hard press. We asked for a lot but he can do that, he was good.”
On chasing the points record: “It’s not important for me, I’m not interested in any of this but I want to win football games. For sports people in general it might be important. We are champions and it could be softening but it is not – the boys go with everything.
“We have 92 points and last season we had 97. We got five points more than this last season – that’s unbelievable, I have no idea how we did that.”
Another away success for Liverpool – the stats
- Liverpool have never won more matches (30) in a single league campaign (level with 1978-79 and 2018-19).
- Brighton have only won two of their 14 Premier League games in 2020 (drawn seven, lost five); no other side has won fewer in the calendar year.
- This was Liverpool’s 13th away league win this season; the joint-most the Reds have ever won on the road in a league season in their history.
- Brighton have lost back-to-back home league games for the first time since April 2019.
- After going seven hours and 47 minutes without scoring a goal away from home in all competitions, Liverpool scored twice within 127 seconds.
- Liverpool were 2-0 ahead in the eighth minute of this match, the earliest they have taken a two-goal lead in a Premier League match since May 2011 against Fulham (seven minutes).
- Salah has reached 100 goal involvements for Liverpool in the Premier League (73 goals, 27 assists in 104 appearances), becoming just the fourth player to do so for the Reds after Steven Gerrard (212), Robbie Fowler (158) and Michael Owen (148)
- Salah has been directly involved in eight goals in his six Premier League appearances against Brighton, scoring five and assisting three.
- Liverpool captain Henderson has scored more Premier League goals in 2019-20 (four) than in his previous three seasons combined before this (three).
- Brighton winger Trossard has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the very first time; seven of his eight combined goals (five) and assists (three) in the competition have come at the Amex Stadium.