Soccer  

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Liverpool: Seagulls leapfrog Reds after dominant win

Solly March, Brighton, Liverpool
Solly March has scored four goals in his last four league appearances for Brighton

Roberto de Zerbi says his Brighton side “have a dream” of qualifying for Europe as Solly March’s double and a late Danny Welbeck strike condemned Liverpool to a heavy defeat at Amex Stadium.

March converted Kaoru Mitoma’s low cross to give the home team a deserved lead, after the returning Alexis Mac Allister had intercepted Joel Matip’s loose pass.

The winger then doubled the hosts’ advantage with a fabulous left-footed strike from Evan Ferguson’s through-ball.

Second-half substitute Welbeck capped a magnificent Brighton display with a superb finish past Alisson after flicking the ball over Joe Gomez.

“I have a fantastic team of fantastic players,” said De Zerbi. “It is an honour to work with them.

“We have a target at the end of the season. Now we have to play another 20-21 games and we have to stay focused on those games.

“We want to work harder to achieve our target.”

De Zerbi’s side dominated the first half but failed to convert their pressure into goals, Trent Alexander-Arnold blocking March’s effort near the goal-line and the lively Mitoma poking wide from a tight angle.

Brighton thought they had won a penalty shortly before the break when March went to ground in the area under Alisson’s challenge, but referee Darren England overturned his initial decision to award a spot-kick after consulting with VAR.

It mattered little, however, as March netted his third and fourth goals of the campaign before Welbeck struck to lift Brighton up to seventh – two places and two points above their opponents.

Hapless Liverpool well beaten

Defensive frailties and a lack of physicality have proved Liverpool’s undoing in recent weeks, with Klopp’s side conceding poor goals in defeat at Brentford in the Premier League and a draw at home to Wolves in the FA Cup last weekend.

The visitors, lining up in a 4-3-1-2 formation spearheaded by Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah, managed to keep free-flowing Brighton at bay in the first half but created next to nothing themselves and were fortunate to go into half-time on level terms.

Mitoma, in sparkling form for Brighton of late, caused Alexander-Arnold and Matip countless problems, with Salah – or any other Reds player for that matter – failing to offer any protection down their right flank.

Liverpool survived a major let-off when Brighton were awarded a penalty for a foul on March by Alisson, only for VAR to rule that the winger had strayed offside from Adam Lallana’s pass.

But the visitors’ luck ran out in the second half as March scored twice in the space of seven minutes to put Brighton on course to a fifth win in seven top-flight games.

Gakpo had a close-range effort saved by Robert Sanchez late on, but Welbeck delivered the final blow with a strike that combined skill and audacity in equal measure.

Seagulls going from strength to strength

Mac Allister was handed his first start since helping Argentina to World Cup glory in December, as Brighton made two changes to the team that thrashed Everton in their last league match.

The midfielder paraded his World Cup winners’ medal before kick-off and was given a rousing reception by the Seagulls supporters, who were hoping to witness a first home league win over Liverpool since 14 January 1961 – precisely 62 years ago.

Buoyed perhaps by Mac Allister’s return to the starting line-up, Brighton played with precision and fluency from the start. March’s low shot was brilliantly cleared to safety by Alexander-Arnold, before Mitoma fired past the far post after breaching the Liverpool defence.

While Brighton’s opener came from a Liverpool error, there was nothing fortunate about the home side’s second as March finished magnificently after being played in by teenager Ferguson, who delivered the latest in a string of eye-catching performances.

Brighton have now scored in each of their last eight games in the top flight, netting 21 goals in that run.

“It’s one of the best performances I can remember for a long time,” March told BBC Sport. “It’s a great day and if we keep playing like that then we’ll do well, that’s for sure.

“It was just about being patient and waiting for that right pass. We play better against the big teams at home. I don’t know why.

“I love playing for Roberto – he’s great. He puts his arm around you and tells you you’re a good player. Maybe that’s what I needed.”

Player of the match

WelbeckDanny Welbeck

Line-ups

Brighton

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Sánchez
  • 13Groß
  • 5DunkBooked at 17minsSubstituted forWebsterat 90+1′minutes
  • 6Colwill
  • 30Estupiñán
  • 25Caicedo
  • 10Mac AllisterSubstituted forSarmientoat 83′minutes
  • 7March
  • 14LallanaSubstituted forVeltmanat 66′minutes
  • 22MitomaSubstituted forLampteyat 90′minutes
  • 28FergusonSubstituted forWelbeckat 66′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Lamptey
  • 4Webster
  • 18Welbeck
  • 19Sarmiento
  • 21Undav
  • 23Steele
  • 27Gilmour
  • 29van Hecke
  • 34Veltman

Liverpool

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-ArnoldBooked at 65mins
  • 32MatipBooked at 18minsSubstituted forGomezat 69′minutes
  • 5Konaté
  • 26Robertson
  • 14HendersonBooked at 30minsSubstituted forElliottat 69′minutes
  • 3FabinhoSubstituted forKeïtaat 68′minutes
  • 6Thiago Alcántara
  • 11Salah
  • 18Gakpo
  • 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forDoakat 69′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Gomez
  • 7Milner
  • 8Keïta
  • 17Jones
  • 19Elliott
  • 21Tsimikas
  • 28Carvalho
  • 50Doak
  • 62Kelleher

Referee:
Darren England

Attendance:
31,645

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