Battling spirit in well-deserved win
Anonymous before the break, Salah was now a livewire presence, tormenting the Brighton defenders. Within two minutes of the restart the Egyptian burst clear on the left but his fierce low shot was drilled straight at the keeper. No matter, moments later his trickery gave Liverpool their crucial goal. He won and scored the body of Cathcart and eventually cross the line. There was more drama when Palace keeper Vicente Guaita went off injured minutes before halftime and was replaced with Wayne Hennessey.
Palace had a chance to increase their lead in the 55th minute, but Ben Foster flung himself wide to deny Wilf Zaha. Foster then produced a superb diving save to deny a 73rd-minute 25-yarder from Milivojevic.
Watford always looked as if they could pick plums and it happened in the 68th minute when Jose Holebas penalty for his 14th League goal of the season, level with the other top scorers Harry Kane and PierreEmerick Aubameyang. Brighton now had to come out of their shells, and created only one good effort in the 60th minute when Gross saw his goal-bound shot blocked by Fabinho. Liverpool carved out a series of opportunities to settle the match but spurned them all. The consequence was a tense finish, tempers flaring between the players, but Liverpool have a solid defence these days.
Klopp knew how vital the result was and turned to hug Salah at the final whistle before acknowledging the test which had been set by Brighton boss Chris Hughton.
“It is really difficult here,” said Klopp. “Chris Hughton is a smart fox! They close the space perfectly.
“This was a proper football game which we won.” swung over a long, raking corner and Cathcart headed in for the equaliser. Palace survived when Mamadou Sakho cleared off the line as Watford took charge.
Then Tom Cleverley decided it. He came on for Ken Sema, who had previously replaced Will Hughes, to volley home in the 74th minute after Holebas’s long throw-in pinged around the Palace box.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson said: “If you want to win games you have to take your chances; we didn’t. This is tough to take, tougher when you’ve been in front and for long periods been the best side.”
COOL FINISH: Salah scores and, below, gets a hug from Klopp