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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Freddie Keighley

Liverpool collapse into crisis with dismal Brighton drubbing - 6 talking points

Solly March scored twice in eight minutes as Brighton leapfrogged Liverpool in the Premier League table to leave the Reds needing a miracle to finish in the top four.

The Seagulls built on a dominant first-half performance to take the lead through the English wideman following a Joel Matip error just seconds after the interval. March grabbed his second in the 53rd minute with a brilliant strike which flew past Alisson into the far corner.

Brighton thoroughly deserved the three points which saw them overtake Liverpool into seventh in the table, having outclassed their visitors in all areas of the pitch. Danny Welbeck secured victory following yet more calamitous Reds defending in the 81st minute, leaving Roberto De Zerbi's side five points off the Champions League spots - and inflicting a sixth league defeat of the season on a Liverpool side verging on crisis.

Here are six talking points from the Amex Stadium.

1. Rusty Reds

Brighton had the lion's share of possession and shots in the early stages (Frank Augstein/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Tottenham have earned the unwanted title of 'slow-starters' this season, but Liverpool deserve a similar reputation.

The Reds have made a habit of coming out of the blocks slowly - a far cry from the intensity they used to brandish from minute one when in their prime under Jurgen Klopp. It was a similar story in the first 20 minutes on the south coast, where Brighton enjoyed two-thirds of possession and showed far more fluency with the ball.

The Seagulls registered four shots, two of which were on target, while limiting their visitors to no efforts in that time. While Alisson was equal to anything which came his way in the opening stages, the alarm bells were ringing for the Reds, who came into the match having conceded first in their last three outings in all competitions.

2. Marauding Mitoma

Kaoru Mitoma was the best player on the pitch in the first half (Frank Augstein/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

As Liverpool continued to struggle in the first half, Karou Mitoma established himself as the best player on the pitch.

That is saying a lot when the likes of Mohamed Salah and Thiago were involved, but the Japan international was sublime on the left flank with his directness and trickery. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konate were solid enough during the opening stages, yet Mitoma repeatedly found himself in acres of space as he surged onto diagonal passes.

The 25-year-old came into the season as an unknown factor after joining Brighton from Kawasaki Frontale in 2021 and spending last season on loan at Union SG. There are few Premier League fans who still do not know his name, however, after he scored against Everton and Arsenal around the turn of the year, and his stock rose further with his dazzling display against Liverpool.

3. Liverpool let-off

Solly March went down under Alisson's challenge, but he was offside in the build-up (AFP via Getty Images)

Liverpool's lacklustre first half almost ended the worst way possible after a penalty was awarded in the 40th minute.

Following another defence-splitting through-ball, Solly March rounded Alisson and was ruled to have been brought down by the Reds No.1. However, a VAR check found the Englishman was offside in the build-up, so the decision was overturned.

The travelling supporters breathed a collective sigh of relief, but the incident only served to underline the Seagulls' dominance and their far superior threat. And that did not chance after half-time...

Will Liverpool finish in the top four? Have your say in the comments!

4. Matip's mistake

Joel Matip was out-of-sorts throughout the contest and was taken off in the second half (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Well, it had been coming.

Joel Matip was the shakier of the two Liverpool centre-backs in the first half - picking up an early booking - and the player who was once imperious in a Champions League final made the sloppiest of errors to gift Brighton the chance to take the lead.

The Cameroonian attempted to play the ball out from the back in the 46th minute - despite the Reds failing to do so effectively throughout the first half - but only succeeded in conceding possession. With a four-on-two advantage, the Seagulls showed all the cutting edge their visitors lacked to capitalise on the chance, with Karou Mitoma finding Solly March at the back post to open the scoring.

5. March Madness

Solly March added his second goal with a sublime strike which nestled in the corner (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.)

Karou Mitoma may have been the standout performer in the first half, but it was Solly March who ensured he will make headlines in the second.

Not content with one goal against Brighton's disorganised visitors, the Seagulls No.7 collected Evan Ferguson's pass, composed himself and lashed into the far corner, leaving Alisson helpless, to grab his second in eight minutes.

Jurgen Klopp responded with a quadruple substitution, sending on Harvey Elliott, Naby Keita, Ben Doak and Joe Gomez for Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson. The Reds needed another breathtaking turnaround to salvage something on the south coast, but against a Brighton side so well-organised across the pitch, such a comeback was never on the cards.

6. Contrast in class

What was quite so concerning for Liverpool was the way they were outperformed in every department.

The Reds were not only at sixes and sevens at the back; they were also run ragged in midfield and toothless in attack, where Levi Colwill nullified a front line containing Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo, who was making his Premier League debut.

Liverpool never looked like forcing their way back into the match to set up a nervy finish and their calamitous defending was exposed yet again in the closing stages as Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez failed to deal with a bouncing ball and Danny Welbeck scored Brighton's third.

The Reds' chances of Champions League qualification are slipping away from them at an alarming rate, while the Seagulls can begin to harbour serious hopes of finishing in the European spots.

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