Mohamed Salah broke Premier League’s goal record as Liverpool cruised to a 4-0 victory at Anfield.
Most of the Liverpool players who were present from the first minute in the loss to Chelsea started this game as well. The only changes Klopp made was dropping Milner and Clyne. Alexander-Arnold was the right back, Henderson and Wijnaldum were the only true midfielders, while Solanke got a rare chance to lead the attack. Izquierdo, Ulloa, Gross and Saltor were absent from Chris Hughton’s lineup that took the field a week ago at Manchester City. Locadia, March, Kayal and Schelotto were brought in instead.
There was a penalty claim for Liverpool in the 9th minute, when Alexander-Arnold’s cross hit Shane Duffy on the arm. The referee could’ve calmly shown on the penalty spot. Duffy was lucky that Kevin Friend decided to keep quiet. Nine minutes later, The Reds had another penalty claim. I don’t know what was the referee thinking, but it was a clear penalty. Duffy was the guilty party again, as he tripped Salah inside the box. A terrible decision. Salah and Klopp were understandably unhappy. A minute after that, Sadio Mane had an excellent opportunity to score. He was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, yet shot the ball straight at him.
Brighton was barely connecting passes, as Liverpool had full control of the possession and pressured immediately upon losing it. In he 26th minute we had the first goal of the game and guess who scored it? Yes, you’re right. It was Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian broke the Premier League record for goals in a season with 32. He managed to break free inside the box for just a second. It was enough for Alexander-Arnold to find him and for him to fire a low left-footed shot that Mathew Ryan was unable to reach.
A couple of minutes later, the score should’ve been increased to 2-0. A failed offside trap left Mane and Salah all alone with Brighton’s goalie. Mane could’ve taken a shot, but decided to set up Salah instead. Ryan used the fact that the strikers were close next to each other and saved Salah’s attempt. The ball rebounded back to the record-breaker, who shot again. A Brighton defender threw his body in the way and blocked the shot at the goal line. An unbelievable miss. By the 30th minute, the home team had 10 attempts on goal. Brighton had none.
Wijnaldum and Firmino had chances to score as well. The Dutch international’s strike from inside the box was a weak one and right up the middle, while the Brazilian’s flew over the bar. Liverpool finally got that second goal in the 40th minute. Brighton cleared the ball during a corner kick, but it came right to Van Dijk, who passed it on to Robertson. The left back then sent a cross, Dejan Lovren flew in and headed the ball home. The two teams were simply classes apart.
At the beginning of the second half, Firmino and another Liverpool player took the ball away at midfield. Liverpool’s #9 was the one who took it, ran with it and then fired a long-range shot that forced Ryan to make a save. Klopp’s decision to start Dominik Solanke paid off as the youngster scored his first goal for Liverpool after 26 appearances, mostly short cameos. It was the 54th minute when Firmino gave the ball to Salah at midfield. The Egyptian magician dribbled past a couple of challengers, pushed the ball forward and then passed it to Solanke on the right side of the box. The tall attacker set himself up and blasted a powerful shot that shook the inside of the cross bar before hitting the net.
Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray came in as substitutions after the goal. Two consecutive mistakes by Bong and Schelotto left Firmino with a perfect opportunity to further Brighton’s misery. He placed his shot, but the placement wasn’t good enough, as Matt Ryan made the save. Sadio Mane received a standing ovation for his tremendous season in the 74th minute, as he was walking off the pitch to make way for Adam Lallana. In the 84th minute, Salah received the most well deserved standing ovation of the season when was substituted by 18-year-old Ben Woodburn. Firmino left the pitch as well. Ings replaced him.
Not long after the changes, Liverpool’s slow build-up play ended with a cross that was deflected right onto Robertson’s left foot. The extraordinary left back scored to make it 4-0. That’s how it stayed until the final whistle. The Reds were close to sealing a direct berth to the Champions League group stage through the league, but Tottenham somehow managed to defeat Leicester City 5-4 in order to finish 3rd. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic season for Klopp and his squad that is now going to get ready for one of the most anticipated finals in CL history.