LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Aug 25 – Mohamed Salah continued his prolific run of Anfield goals as Liverpool narrowly defeated Brighton 1-0 to move top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side also maintained their impressive defensive start to the campaign, recording a third successive clean sheet to open the new season thanks to £65-million goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s late save from Pascal Gross.
And at the other end of the field, Salah showed he is no one-season wonder after a stunning 44-goal campaign last season by producing a sumptuous finish midway through the first half that proved the difference between the sides.
It was far from a vintage display from an attack that has become among the most feared in Europe in the past 12 months since the Egyptian was united with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
But, Salah moved Liverpool two points ahead of champions Manchester City by taking his tally to 29 goals in 29 home league and cup games since joining from Roma.
The latest came at the end of a superbly-worked team move from Klopp’s men.
It started with James Milner robbing possession from Yves Bissouma and moving it on to Sadio Mane who, in turn, fed Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian slipped a well-timed pass outside him to Salah, who had the necessary yard of space to slot a perfect finish past the diving Mat Ryan from 15 yards.
The goal capped a predictably dominant start from Klopp’s side, aiming to move to the top of the division for the first time since November 2016.
Ryan had saved a point-blank header from Firmino and seen Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick clip his cross-bar even before the opener.
After it, there were also chances for Georginio Wijnaldum, whose effort on the turn was well-saved by Ryan who did likewise from Mane’s stooping header.
But Brighton, fresh from their morale-boosting victory over Manchester United last weekend, presented the hosts with a scare early in the second half when Glenn Murray forced his way into the area and set up Anthony Knockaert for a shot which he sliced wide from a promising position.
There was further concern for the home supporters on 65 minutes when Bissouma, making his first start for Albion since his £15-million summer move from Lille, unleashed a 20-yard free-kick which deflected behind off the Liverpool wall.
Liverpool faced some anxious moments in their own goalmouth over the game’s closing minutes, not least in the 88th minute when Alisson saved brilliantly from an eight-yard header from Gross.
But, the hosts held on to grind out the sort of win that could be key come May in their bid to end a 29-year wait to be champions of England.