Brighton 2 - 1 Liverpool
Brighton: Dunk 39’, Mitoma 90+2’
Liverpool: Elliott 30’
It’s Captain Robbo for the Reds. The only change from the side that drew Chelsea is Trent Alexander-Arnold swapping in for James Milner. Darwin Nunez is on the bench, and the front three of Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliott start the game. Moises Caicedo is conspicuous in his absence from the Brighton side, who have made four changes to their lineup since they recently faced Leicester in the Premier League.
The game kicks off with a good pace. Naby Keita and Mo link up to create Liverpool’s first chance at around 3’, but Lewis Dunk clear it off the line. Trent provides a forward thrust that was sorely missing in the Chelsea game, with a signature cross around 6’ which lands at Salah’s feet but he fumbles the ball away from goal.
Liverpool are showing more intent today and look better on possession, but Brighton have been organised down the middle of the pitch and haven’t allowed them to penetrate.
Around 14’, a forward surge by Evan Ferguson forces Trent to make a goal line clearance. Kaoru Mitoma looks lively as always, causing enough unpredictability to concern Alisson.
At 31’, Keita shoots a pass from deep in midfield which Salah receives and directs at Elliott who is waiting near the box. Elliott uses his right foot to guide it into the far post - and GOAL!
Full time ref, surely....well, never mind, an unmarked Tariq Lamptey shoots from a distance less than 10 minutes later and the ball deflects off Dunk and past Alisson who lunges in the wrong direction - GOAL to Brighton.
The half ends 1-1 with about 50-50 possession and no clean sheet for Liverpool.
The second half begins with Brighton attacking proactively, keeping Alisson busy. At 58’, Trent is replaced by James Milner to handle the threat of Mitoma. Nevertheless his threat continues and at 70’ he slickly passes the ball from far wide to Solly March and Alisson is forced to make a desperate save, denying him. Evan Ferguson has another shot from close range at 80’ and Konate scrambles to save it. Liverpool have four yellow cards in the game by now. The tie is wrapped up in injury time when Mitoma slots home a wonderfully elegant ball from a set piece, sending Brighton through to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Liverpool’s second loss to Brighton in 15 days saw the squad rarely taking control of the game like yesteryear, and relying very much on counters and turnovers of possession to create chances. There were earnest performances by Ibrahima Konate, Elliott, and Alisson. As for the rest - Liverpool’s slump continues, no one’s really in sync, Salah is lacking in confidence and edge, the list goes on. Blow the whistle on this season of ‘meh’ already, ref.