Runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool survived a nervy finish, following the 76th-minute dismissal of Alisson, to equal their longest unbeaten run in the top flight and capitalise on another Manchester City slip-up with a 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
City’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle United earlier on Saturday gave Jurgen Klopp’s men the chance to extend their healthy lead over last season’s champions to 11 points, a task they looked set to complete with ease after Virgil van Dijk scored twice inside 24 minutes at Anfield.
Brighton were given an unexpected lifeline when Alisson was sent off for handling outside his box – meaning he will miss Wednesday’s Merseyside derby – and Lewis Dunk caught out replacement goalkeeper Adrian with a quick free-kick.
The Seagulls could not find a late equaliser, though, and while Leicester City can cut Liverpool’s advantage at the summit to eight points by beating Everton on Sunday, there looks to be no stopping a team who have now gone 31 league games unbeaten, matching their record streak from May 1987 to March 1988.
A Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick set up the opener for Van Dijk in the 18th minute and the same combination soon provided a second goal as Brighton were found wanting at a corner.
Two assists for Trent.
Two goals for VVD.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 30, 2019
After a quiet start, Liverpool were looking rampant and Mat Ryan made a trio of fine stops as Sadio Mane laid on two chances for Roberto Firmino before being denied himself.
Dunk should have pulled a goal back eight minutes before the interval during Brighton’s best spell, but the defender clumsily shinned the ball wide from Dan Burn’s cross, having perhaps been put off by Yves Bissouma failing to get fully out of the way from a clearly offside position.
After heading wide from a corner early in the second half, Dunk made it third-time lucky by drilling home a free-kick with Adrian out of position, after Alisson had used his hands outside the area to deny substitute Leandro Trossard.
Liverpool were on edge thereafter and Adrian saved well from Aaron Mooy before almost spilling a tame Pascal Gross header into his own net as the hosts just about clung on.
What does it mean? Liverpool enjoy routine day… until Alisson’s red
Liverpool play nine games in December, including a much-publicised double-header that will see a youthful side face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup quarter-finals the day before the first XI play a Club World Cup semi-final.
In that context – and with key midfielder Fabinho out for the rest of the year – a straightforward day was just what Klopp would have wanted. For 75 minutes, he got just that, even if Alisson’s dismissal made the closing stages tougher than anyone would have anticipated.
2012 – Alisson is the first Liverpool goalkeeper to be sent off in a Premier League game since Doni vs Blackburn in April 2012. Dismissed. #LIVBHA
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 30, 2019
Yet more assists for prolific Alexander-Arnold
Alexander-Arnold’s delivery for Van Dijk’s opener was glorious and the right-back soon set up a second goal. Since the start of last season, no player has managed more assists than his 17 in the Premier League.
Set-piece woes undermine Seagulls
Brighton’s eagerness to play out from the back is laudable. However, their central defenders were guilty of failing to complete more rudimentary duties at Anfield. Adam Webster was comfortably beaten by Van Dijk for the first goal and the Dutchman got ahead of Dunk with ease six minutes later.
A home derby against struggling rivals Everton provides Liverpool’s next test on Wednesday. Brighton face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium 24 hours later.
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