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Salah, Coutinho and Firmino steal the show as Liverpool cruise at Brighton

Salah, Coutinho and Firmino steal the show as Liverpool cruise at Brighton
From ESPN - December 2, 2017

BRIGHTON, England -- Three thoughts on Brighton 1-5 Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

1. Liverpool upwardly mobile

After the 3-3 debacle at Sevilla a few weeks ago, you'd forgive Liverpool fans for getting nervous when their team take a 3-0 lead. But for the second game in a row Jurgen Klopp's men completed an emphatic, fuss-free victory after scoring the first three goals, this time a 5-1 win over a Brighton side whose limitations were exposed.

Philippe Coutinho was the outstanding player, scoring at least once (his second possibly a Lewis Dunk own goal) and setting up another, the remaining goals coming from Emre Can and a Roberto Firmino brace. If Wednesday's 3-0 win over Stoke was efficient, this had far more flamboyance and ruthlessness.

Brighton began the game by trying to sit deep and frustrate their opponents, forcing them to try passing through the massed ranks, and initially it worked. Liverpool seemed to spend much of the opening 30 minutes knocking the ball around their backline, which featured two midfielders in Can and Georginio Wijnaldum. For a while, it looked like everyone was going to be in for a reasonably slow afternoon.

But Liverpool broke through Brighton's resistance twice in quick succession after half an hour. They took the lead from a corner, Can rising above some slack Brighton defending to hammer a header into the roof of the net.

And 79 seconds later it was two, this time via the slightly more familiar method of scoring from Klopp's side. A whirling counter-attack began with a Mohamed Salah run through the middle, he spread the ball left to Coutinho who hit a brilliant, low early ball across the face of goal and Firmino was there to force it home.

It looked like the game was well and truly over a few minutes into the second half. Izzy Brown crossed for Glenn Murray in the box but his effort was saved at point-blank range by Simon Mignolet. Liverpool then counter-attacked superbly, Salah fed Firmino who gave an instant demonstration of what clinical finishing looks like, sweeping high into the net.

But almost immediately afterwards Brighton had a goal back, when Can was penalised for an infringement following a corner. What sort of infringement was not immediately obvious, but few of the Liverpool players seemed to protest too loudly, and Murray struck a fine penalty home.

Brighton threatened sporadically, but Liverpool always looked in control. Coutinho capped the win with a few minutes to go, smartly driving a free kick from the edge of the area underneath the jumping wall, before making it five with the help of a chunky deflection off Dunk. A good job, done emphatically well.

2. Fearsome attack propels Klopp's Reds

You wonder whether, in a quieter moment, Klopp would admit that it would be nice to have a season without European football. The Liverpool manager has been forced to rotate his team in recent weeks because of their hectic schedule in November and December, but without the stress of the Champions League he might be able to play this forward line more often.

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