(Reuters) – Liverpool went seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and bounced back from two successive defeats in all competitions after a Mohamed Salah penalty gave them a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
The result put Liverpool on 57 points from 22 games, seven ahead of closest rivals Manchester City who are at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday. Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have 48 points, host Manchester United on Sunday.
Manager Juergen Klopp was pleased with the outcome and the performance which he described as a “really nice song if not an opera of football”.
“We learned from the first half and the second half was better,” Klopp told the BBC.
“It was a mature performance from my side. This season it is quite a new skill and I’d like us to keep that.
“It was very hard but that is how it is. Everyone knows how difficult it is to go to Brighton.”
Liverpool were clinical if unimpressive on the south coast, having lost 2-1 at City in their previous league outing before being beaten by Wolves in the FA Cup third round by the same scoreline.
After a dour first half, Salah produced a moment of trademark individual skill to win the spot kick he converted five minutes into the second half after Pascal Gross had fouled him following the Egyptian’s neat footwork in the penalty area.
Xherdan Shaqiri, who got a rare start on the right flank in a reshuffled 4-2-3-1 formation, missed Liverpool’s best chance in the opening half when he headed just wide after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
As Brighton threw men forward in the closing stages, Liverpool twice came close to scoring again with the home team’s goalkeeper David Button parrying Roberto Firmino’s effort before Salah misfired wide from five metres.
Klopp singled out Alexander-Arnold, who picked up an ankle injury in the warm-up but played through the pain for the full 90 minutes.
“It was a shock in that moment,” said the German. “It was the last situation of the warming up. He wants to play so he doesn’t say immediately.
“On the way in we thought he couldn’t play so James Milner did a warm-up but it was a brilliant decision from the medical staff and Trent. He played well.”
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon)