Liverpool 2-1 Brighton: Mohamed Salah nets winner as Reds return to top before Arsenal face Man City

If at first you don’t succeed: Mohamed Salah defied an off-day in front of goal to net a vital winner for Liverpool against Brighton (REUTERS)
If at first you don’t succeed: Mohamed Salah defied an off-day in front of goal to net a vital winner for Liverpool against Brighton (REUTERS)

Liverpool came from behind to defeat Brighton 2-1 and return to the Premier League summit, for a short while at least.

The resurgent Reds opened up a three-point gap back at the top to pile the pressure in a thrilling three-way title fight on rivals Arsenal and Manchester City, who lock horns in a huge showdown at the Etihad Stadium later on Easter Sunday.

The Gunners, who went into the weekend leading the way, would leapfrog Liverpool again with a first win away at City since 2015 owing to their superior goal difference, though Pep Guardiola’s champions now cannot end the day in first place as they stand four points off the top after events on Merseyside.

A draw at the Etihad or City win would see Liverpool stay at the summit heading into a round of midweek fixtures.

Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah both struck for Jurgen Klopp’s side, the latter with the decisive intervention despite missing a hatful of other chances, as they bounced back from their agonising FA Cup quarter-final extra-time loss to fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford before the international break.

The hosts had trailed with just 87 seconds on the clock in the first instalment of Sunday’s massive title double-header, with Danny Welbeck stunning Anfield into silence after thumping a brilliant effort past Caoimhin Kelleher after a fine run from the dangerous Simon Adingra, who Liverpool just could not live with early on.

It was the earliest goal scored by a visiting team in a Premier League game at Anfield since all the way back in October 2019, when England captain Harry Kane notched for Tottenham after only 47 seconds in another 2-1 turnaround win for Liverpool - a day on which Salah also scored a second-half winner.

The first half on Sunday was a thrilling end-to-end affair, with chances galore for both sides and the game played at a rip-roaring tempo.

Alexis Mac Allister was superb for Liverpool against his former side as he fashioned numerous chances to equalise, but top scorer Salah was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal.

Young Conor Bradley was also a bundle of energy for the Reds from right-back, replacing the injured Andy Robertson as Joe Gomez switched to the left side of defence.

Liverpool restored parity shortly before the half-hour mark, Diaz expertly steering a volley past Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen from close range after Salah had turned a Dominik Szoboszlai corner back into the box and Joel Veltman could not clear.

Brighton’s players appeared furiously in vain for offside again Diaz, but the ball being played back by Veltman negated that possibility.

The missed chances continued to pile up for Salah and Liverpool still looked very vulnerable down their right flank as the two sides ended a thrilling opening period level at one-goal apiece, Darwin Nunez somehow prodding an inventive effort off the post while lying on the floor.

Liverpool ramped up the tempo again after the break, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai and Salah all going close before Nunez forced a strong save from Verbruggen at his near post.

The relentless pressure finally told after 65 minutes, when the influential Mac Allister teed up Salah for a bullet finish with his left foot into the bottom corner.

Confidence renewed, Liverpool pressed and pushed hard for a third goal to kill the contest but were denied by the offside flag after Salah set up Diaz for a second composed finish from the Colombian. The decision stood after the drawing of lines during a lengthy VAR check.

Salah missed another golden chance on the counter-attack and Lewis Dunk twice tested Kelleher during an exciting finale, with Adam Lallana then almost notching an equaliser for Brighton against his former employers and Salah denied again by a wonderful Verbruggen save before Welbeck blasted into the side netting from a difficult angle.