- Champions Liverpool beat Albion 3-1 at the Amex
- Seagulls up against it after conceding twice in the first eight minutes
- Leandro Trossard pulls one back and Albion have other chances to level
- Mo Salah scores his second of the game to seal victory for the champions
Liverpool proved too strong for Albion but Graham Potter would have been pleased with the way his side reacted after they conceded twice in the first eight minutes at the Amex.
Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson both profited when Albion gave the ball away to put the champions in control, but for the next hour there was little between the teams, who produced an entertaining spectacle.
Leandro Trossard scored his fifth goal of the season just before the break to deservedly get Albion back into it and they had chances in the second half to draw level before Salah got his second 15 minutes from time to end any hopes of a comeback.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were certainly stretched at times, particularly by the pace and movement of Trossard and Neal Maupay, but Albion learned the hard way that errors against the best sides will inevitably be ruthlessly punished.
Head coach Graham Potter made three changes to the side which beat Norwich 1-0 on Saturday. In came Dale Stephens, Alexis Mac Allister and Pascal Gross for Yves Bissouma, Aaron Connolly and Aaron Mooy, who were all on the bench.
Roberto Firmino had already seen a shot deflected narrowly wide for a corner when Liverpool went ahead in the sixth minute. Davy Propper was dispossessed on the edge of his own box by Naby Keita and in a blink of an eye the ball was switched to Salah who drove powerfully past the helpless Maty Ryan for Liverpool’s first away goal in nearly eight hours.
Two minutes and seven seconds later the champions had another. Adam Webster lost possession on this occasion after trying to bring the ball out of defence and once again Albion were punished ruthlessly, this time by Henderson who flashed another powerful shot past Ryan from the edge of the box.
It was the worst possible start for the Seagulls, but they gradually began to build an attacking threat of their own.
Gross, who was in a good position himself for a shot, elected to tee up Trossard instead, and the Belgian saw his effort deflected by Nico Williams for a corner. Albion went even closer in the 28th minute.
Trossard did superbly on the left before finding Maupay whose shot looked like going in until goalkeeper Alisson managed to claw the Frenchman’s shot around the post for a corner.
In a first half played at an eye-catching tempo, Albion continued to live dangerously, though. Mac Allister gave the ball away to Keita and his pass found Firmino, but the striker stabbed his shot tamely at Ryan.
Stephens wasn’t far away either with a drive from the edge of the box, before the hosts deservedly got back into the game just before the break.
Tariq Lamptey produced a superb right-wing cross which Trossard met on the half volley and swept it right-footed past a helpless Allison.
Game on, although Albion nearly shot themselves in the foot again in first-half stoppage time when Stephens was dispossessed by Salah who picked out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Webster got across to block his shot.
Liverpool threatened first in the second half as they looked for the goal which would kill off their hosts. Salah latched onto Keito’s pass to get away from Dan Burn but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot; Salah teed up Oxlade-Chamberlain whose shot was deflected for a corner, then Henderson’s powerful volley was well held by Ryan.
But Albion were inches away from levelling on the hour. Propper flicked on Mac Allister’s cross to Burn, but the defender’s shot was hooked away from in front of goal by Joe Gomez, leaving the big defender with his head in his hands in frustration.
Potter made a triple change with 20 minutes to go when Yves Bissouma, Aaron Mooy and Aaron Connolly entered the action, but Liverpool made the points safe five minutes later.
Salah found too much space at the near post to deftly head Andy Robertson’s corner past Ryan. Potter will feel it was another poor goal to concede.
Still, Albion carried a threat of their own. Trossard would have been frustrated not to at least test Allison when Stephens’ delicate lob picked him out but the Belgian lifted his shot from eight yards over the target before Connolly drove across the face of goal from a tight angle on the left but no one could apply a decisive touch.
Salah missed a great chance to complete his hat-trick but headed over, although a fourth Liverpool goal would have been harsh.
With West Ham losing to Burnley there is still a healthy gap between Albion and the sides below them, but it doesn’t get much easier with Manchester City at the Amex on Saturday.
Albion: Ryan, Lamptey, Webster, Dunk ©, Burn; Stephens, Propper (Bissouma 71); Gross (Connolly 71), Mac Allister (Mooy 71), Trossard; Maupay.
Subs not used: Button, Duffy, Jahanbakhsh, Murray.
Referee: Craig Pawson