Brighton get the better of Liverpool again!

The two teams met at the AMEX in the league only a fortnight ago. That time around, the home side came away 3-0 winners in what was an abysmal display by Jurgen Klopp’s Reds. In a bid for redemption, the German’s side once again travelled to the South Coast, but this time in the FA Cup – and as the current holders, the competition may have presented their best chance at silverware this season having already crashed out of the Carabao Cup.

As much as the lead up to the game was focused on the previous two meetings of the sides – which saw nine goals – there was a lot of talk about an absence in the Brighton camp with Moises Caicedo dropped after failing to attend training, with the Ecuadorian midfielder strongly linked with a move to Chelsea. Nonetheless, the Seagulls remained focus as they looked to better Liverpool once again this month.

Brighton: Steele; Lamptey, Webster, Dunk (c), Estupinan; Mac Allister, Gross; March, Welbeck, Mitoma; Ferguson

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Gomez, Robertson (c); Bajcetic, Thiago, Keita; Salah, Gakpo, Elliott

The game started intensely, and was immediately open.

3’ Salah, who connected with Keita on multiple occasions through the first half, got on the end of a through ball, cutting onto his left foot to unleash a shot that was saved by Steele. On the rebound, Salah drove the ball low across the face of the Brighton goaL – whether or not he meant to shoot is unclear but it was cleared off the line with just three minutes played. The next 10 minutes was very cagey, with Brighton retaining most of the ball – even with clear improvements to Liverpool’s infamous high press.

15′ When Liverpool did regain the ball, they found it hard to progress it – giving away possession frequently, most notably in the 15th minute when a fast break led to Evan Ferguson’s shot being cleared off the line by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

21′ Six minutes later, there was more trouble in Liverpool’s defensive third as Kaoru Mitoma beat two players before firing a pass into Ferguson who laid the ball back off to the Japanese winger. Mitoma faked the shot onto his left but fails to truly test Alisson, who welcomed the ball softly into his grasp.

25′ It didn’t take long for Liverpool to conjure their own chance at the other end in response, with Trent linking up with Elliott who drifted inside to play a pass beyond the Brighton defence to find Salah who uncharacteristically drags it wide.

30′ Just a few moments later, the link up was reversed as it was Salah who found the run of Elliott – with the Englishman sliding the ball under Steele to give Liverpool the lead with his weak foot. The goal was checked by VAR for a hand ball in the build up by Naby Keita, but the on field decision stood and the Liverpool fans were vindicated in their celebrations.

39′ Liverpool’s lead was not long lived. Following a corner from the left side, Trent was there to clear the cross. However, Tariq Lamptey was ready to pounce as the ball dribbled out to him, firing the ball back in low and hard. Lewis Dunk didn’t know much about it, but the ball came off him and left Alisson with no chance between the sticks as the ball deflected past him. Liverpool had lost their lead – through another set piece, which is becoming a tale all too familiar for Klopp’s coaching team.

43′ Cody Gakpo – who had looked very good in this half – received the ball in the midfield to turn and set away Harvey Elliott into a one-on-one. The young Englishman took it in stride well, but then showed too much of the ball as he shifted it onto his left foot with Tariq Lamptey then making the recovery.

The teams went into the break all even, with Harvey Elliott’s opener levelled out by Lewis Dunk’s equaliser. The second half started much like the first half – Liverpool struggled to play with the Brighton press being very high and very effective.

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59′ The nature of the game led to Klopp making a 3 in 1 change. Milner replaced Trent in an attempt to slow down the electric Mitoma, Henderson came on for Keita and Darwin Nunez replaced the impressive Elliott who seemed to still be shaken up from a knock to the head sustained in his on-on-one at the end of the first half.

These changes seemed to make a fast impact as Milner was creating chances, Henderson was helping the legs in the middle and Liverpool seemed to have flipped the run of play and it was now Brighton who were struggling to play through the Liverpool press.

70′ Despite this, Mitoma again was dangerous at the other end when he played the ball into no man’s land. The ball was met by Solly March, whose shot was saved by an onrushing Alisson.

80′ Trouble again faced the Liverpool goal as March beat Bajcetic on the right side before crossing low into the box. The ball was poorly cleared by Gomez straight to the feet of Evan Ferguson, though his shot was blocked brilliantly by Konate.

85’ Fabinho came on late to try and steady the ship in the final moments, but it was his carelessness that led to a yellow card after he hacked down Evan Ferguson who limped off and was replaced by Undav.

90+5′ Robertson followed the trend that was emerging in the Liverpool side – late tackles. The Scot was late to a tackle and was also incredibly lucky not to see red. The following free-kick was the pivotal moment in the match however, with the ball was swung in towards back post to left back Estupinan – who lofted the ball back across the penalty area to Mitoma. The Japanese starlet was calm and collected in controlling the ball, firing past Alisson on the volley to win the match for Brighton.

Final Score: 2-1

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My man of the match was Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma – not only was he the provider of the decisive moment to win the game, he was a constant threat on the ball with his dribbling and creativity. Brighton go marching on to the next round, and with the Seagulls sitting in the top six of the Premier League, how high is the ceiling for Roberto De Zerbi’s men?

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