Irish Independent

Salah dou­ble sinks Seag­ulls to keep Reds on course for record tally

- Ja­son Burt Sports · UEFA Champions League · Soccer · Colwyn Bay F.C. · Liverpool Football Club · Liverpool · Manchester City Football Club · Manchester · Jürgen Klopp · Mohamed Salah · Jamie Vardy · Jordan Henderson · Roberto Firmino · Wrexham F.C. · Joe Gomez · Virgil van Dijk · Neal Maupay · Andrew Robertson · London · Georginio Wijnaldum · Leandro Trossard · Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

LIVER­POOL need three vic­to­ries from their fi­nal four Premier League games to take Manch­ester City’s record of 100 points for a sea­son and who is to say Jur­gen Klopp’s ‘men­tal­ity mon­sters’ will not achieve it.

Such has been their dom­i­nance this cam­paign that a new high­est-ever to­tal would cer­tainly be war­ranted as they de­feated Brighton to be­come the first team to reach 30 league wins in just 34 matches.

In do­ing so, Mo­hamed Salah scored twice and now has 19 league goals as he chases down Jamie Vardy (with 22) for the golden boot, while the only con­cern was an in­jury to the other goalscorer, Jordan Hen­der­son, who limped off shak­ing his head.

Not that this was a pro­ces­sion. After tak­ing what ap­peared to be an early, unas­sail­able two-goal lead Liver­pool had to fight and scrap against a side free from the fear of rel­e­ga­tion and want­ing to take a big scalp and hav­ing the am­bi­tion to try and do just that. It was hugely en­joy­able.

There was yet an­other ‘guard of hon­our’ for Liver­pool as they took to the pitch and then Brighton parted within the opening 10 min­utes as they gifted the cham­pi­ons two goals.

The first came when Davy Prop­per dal­lied in pos­ses­sion on the edge of his own area as Brighton played out from the back.

Mat Ryan picked out the mid­fielder only for Naby Keita to steal in be­fore squar­ing the ball to Salah, who side­footed it into the net.

It was also self­less from Roberto Firmino as he had let the ball run to Salah, who was bet­ter placed.

Liver­pool struck again two min­utes later as Adam Web­ster at­tempted to hold up Salah, only to turn the ball back to Jordan Hen­der­son.

The mid­fielder took it in his stride with a su­perb first-time shot from 25 yards that swept across Ryan to dou­ble the ad­van­tage.

Once again it came after Brighton had lost the ball as Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum pressed and found Firmino, who picked out Salah.

Anom­aly

To think Klopp’s side had come into this game with the anom­aly of go­ing five away games with­out scoring. Now, after a bar­ren spell of 467 min­utes, they had two in 127 sec­onds.

Brighton were rocked but re­sponded well. They cre­ated their first op­por­tu­nity when Pas­cal Gross’s low cross was cut out by Wi­j­nal­dum but still dropped to Le­an­dro Trossard, who seemed set to score only for Neco Wil­liams to in­ter­vene with an ex­cel­lent block. The 19-year-old Wrex­ham-born de­fender – mak­ing his Premier League de­but at left-back, when he nor­mally plays on the other flank – started well but was soon up against it in a tough bat­tle with Brighton’s own eye-catch­ing young full­back, Tariq Lamptey, who tore past him on half­way with Wil­liams des­per­ately try­ing to haul him back.

On the other flank, Trossard also showed his pace to go around Joe Gomez and push the ball past Vir­gil van Dijk be­fore even­tu­ally cross­ing for Neal Mau­pay, who ap­peared likely to score from close range only for it to be scram­bled away for a cor­ner by Keita.

It re­mained a re­mark­ably open game, with Liver­pool again go­ing close as they worked the ball through to Firmino only for Web­ster to in­ter­vene be­fore he could stab it home. So back came Brighton with shots from Mau­pay and the im­pres­sive Trossard blocked.

Fi­nally Brighton, and Trossard, got their re­ward for their in­ven­tion as the ball was played out wide to Lamptey, who played in a pre­cise cross that was

met sweetly on the half-vol­ley by the Bel­gian to pow­er­fully beat Alis­son.

Wil­liams did not make it into the sec­ond half, re­placed by Andrew Robert­son, which showed how well Lamptey had done. In fair­ness, Wil­liams had been played out of po­si­tion and had also been booked.

Keita lasted an hour, and looked more as­sured in mid­field, and it was his clever pass that picked out Salah, who out­paced Dan Burn and was through on goal, only for Ryan to parry his low shot. Brighton blocked again from an­other sharp Liver­pool at­tack, with Lewis Dunk deny­ing Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain.

But it was the home side who should have scored, and drawn level, when a cross was flicked through to Burn, un­marked, at the far post, but he badly skewed his shot across goal.

It con­tin­ued to ebb and flow with

Salah again rac­ing away, and Lamptey sprint­ing back, be­fore Alis­son flapped at a cor­ner from sub­sti­tute Aaron Mooey.

At the other end and Ryan was left rooted as a Hen­der­son shot drifted nar­rowly wide fol­low­ing a heavy de­flec­tion.

From the cor­ner Salah darted to­wards the near post to meet Robert­son’s de­liv­ery and flash a header past Ryan for his sec­ond goal. It may not have been a pre­planned rou­tine but it was a ruth­less piece of op­por­tunism which has char­ac­terised this side.

That ended any doubt and while Liver­pool could have added more then so could Brighton who did not give up and, to their credit, con­tin­ued to threaten with sub­sti­tute Aaron Con­nolly’s pace oc­ca­sion­ally look­ing threat­en­ing.

It’s the pace-set­ters at the top, how­ever, who, even with the eupho­ria of a league ti­tle, are still blaz­ing a trail. (© Daily Tele­graph, London)

 ??  ?? Mo Salah scores a near-post header to seal vic­tory for Liver­pool against Brighton last night
Mo Salah scores a near-post header to seal vic­tory for Liver­pool against Brighton last night
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