- Albion are beaten 2-1 by Liverpool at Anfield
- Virgil van Dijk scores two headers for the hosts
- Alisson is shown a straight red card for a deliberate handball
- Lewis Dunk halves the deficit from a free kick to make it 2-1
The Seagulls trailed 2-0 at the break to two Virgil van Dijk headers despite creating three good chances just before the break.
Albion continued to press in the second half and Dunk scored from a free kick with ten minutes to go after Liverpool keeper Alisson had been sent off for handling outside the box.
Aaron Mooy and Pascal Gross were both denied by replacement keeper Adrian in the closing stages, and although Albion couldn’t find the equaliser, their performance will give head coach Graham Potter plenty of encouragement ahead of the busy December schedule.
Potter had made four changes with skipper Dunk returning after suspension and recalls for Gross, Yves Bissouma and Aaron Connolly. Solly March (groin) was ruled out by injury while Shane Duffy, Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay dropped to the bench. It was Bissouma’s second start of the campaign following the game with Chelsea at the end of September at Stamford Bridge, with the midfielder's start to the season having been delayed due to a shoulder injury.
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Potter would have been pleased with Albion’s start, with Connolly a lively outlet, but Liverpool gradually began to get on top. Roberto Firmino hit the side netting, then Maty Ryan made a superb save with his wrist to keep out Firmino’s 16th-minute drive.
But Ryan was beaten two minutes later when Trent Alexander-Arnold curled a free-kick from the right into the box, and van Dijk rose above Adam Webster to direct a firm header into the roof of the net.
Now the leaders were on the front foot. Ryan denied Firmino again and then saved Sadio Mane’s effort, before Liverpool profited from another set-piece in the 24th minute. This time Alexander-Arnold delivered an in-swinging corner from the left, which van Dijk met with a powerful header past a helpless Ryan.
Albion had enjoyed some decent spells of possession in the first third of the contest, and they then fashioned three good chances in the space of three minutes. On 36 minutes good passing created space for Davy Propper, whose right-foot shot was pushed out by keeper Alisson. From the corner, Dan Burn’s left-wing centre was left by Bissouma for Dunk, but he steered his shot wide from eight yards with only the keeper to beat. Bissouma then teed up Propper for a shot that wasn’t far away.
But instead of getting a goal back, the Seagulls were indebted to Ryan when he denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a full-length save after Liverpool had broken through Sane and Firmino.
Albion went close again nine minutes after the break when Dunk met Pascal Gross’s corner from the left, but his glancing header dropped the wrong side of the post, and Alisson had another save to make when Connolly got a yard of space on Georginio Wijnaludum for a low shot.
At the other end, Oxlade-Chamberlain dragged a right-foot shot wide from a good position before Albion made a double change in the 67th minute, when Steven Alzate and Trossard replaced Martin Montoya and Bissouma, before Neal Maupay came on for Connolly.
Ten minutes from time Alisson had his aberration when he came haring out of goal and handled the ball, as LeandroTrossard tried to lift the ball over the keeper and into an empty net. Referee Atkinson showed him a red card. Substitute keeper Adrian’s first task was to fish the ball out of the net after Dunk had the presence of mind to drive the free kick from 20 yards into the bottom left-hand corner while Liverpool were trying to organise their defensive wall.
Game on and the closing stages were largely played in Liverpool’s final third, with Adrian producing a great save to his right to keep out Mooy’s fiercely struck shot and a close-range effort from Gross. Albion couldn’t find an equaliser despite their late pressure, but it was Liverpool who were relieved to hear the final whistle.
ALBION: Ryan, Montoya (Alzate 67), Webster, Dunk, Burn; Stephens, Mooy; Gross, Propper, Bissouma (Trossard 67); Connolly (Maupay 75).
SUBS NOT USED: Button, Duffy, Murray, Schelotto.
Christmas cracker at the Amex!