Liverpool undone by late VAR controversy at The Amex

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Brighton scored a late equaliser after an injury time penalty was awarded.

Liverpool travelled to The Amex this afternoon for their meeting with Brighton. A win – or draw – for Liverpool would mean they go top of the table momentarily, with Tottenham still to play. They only managed a draw in the end after a late Brighton penalty to the displeasure of Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool fans alike.

Brighton manager Graham Potter has his side playing fast, progressive football. They have, however, struggled for goals despite retaining possession well and creating chances. That was the same story today as they squandered a number of opportunities to take the lead, they will, however, be satisfied with the end result.

Liverpool had a succession of half chances early in the match but failed to capitalize.

Brighton were the ones to fashion the first big chance of the match. Neal Maupay did well on the halfway line to turn his defender before playing Aaron Connolly through on goal. The Irish striker had the goal at his mercy but he dragged his shot wide. A brilliant chance for Brighton to take the lead.

Connolly caused Liverpool yet more problems in the 19th minute as he was upended by Neco Williams in the Liverpool box. He turned provider for Maupay on this occasion as the French striker stepped up to take the penalty. He sent Alisson the wrong way, but shot wide of the post while doing so.

Just minutes after the striker walked straight down the tunnel while clutching his hamstring. A nightmare few minutes for him.

Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah thought he gave his side the lead in the 35th minute as he was played in behind before finishing past Matt Ryan. After a lengthy check by VAR though, the Egyptian was adjudged to be slightly offside which in turn ruled the goal out.

A small number of half chances for both sides followed before the referee sounded for the break. Brighton might have felt hard done by not to be in the lead.

Brighton’s hard luck in front of goal eventually came back to haunt them in the 60th minute. It was that man again, Diogo Jota, who put his side in the lead. After a good run in which he made space for himself, the Portuguese international finished sharply into the bottom left corner.

Connolly and Salah were taken off within minutes of each other shortly after the goal. Neither were happy with their manager’s decision to make the substitution – and rightly so. Although Salah has had better games, he still looked dangerous on occasion and being a key player for the team, would have expected to last the full 90. The substitution was likely taken as a fitness precaution given the Egyptian’s recent positive Covid-19 test, but he obviously felt up to the mark based on the reaction. Aaron Connolly was equally bemused and frustrated with his substitution. After a string of matches where the Irish striker started on the bench, he got his chance in the starting XI today. Although he missed an early opportunity to take the lead, he caused serious problems for Liverpool on occasion.

Liverpool thought they had the game wrapped up in the 84th minute after Sadio Mane headed in from a Fabinho free kick. Upon review, however, the Senegalese forward had strayed offside meaning the goal would be disallowed.

Liverpool looked fairly comfortable despite Brighton’s refusal to lay down and probably thought they were good value for the lead. VAR would strike again, though, as another penalty was awarded in injury time after Brighton forward Danny Welbeck was fouled in the area. Referee Stuart Attwell was called over to the monitor to review the incident after a VAR check and controversially pointed to the spot after some thought.

Pascal Gross stepped up to take the penalty this time. He made no mistake as he sent the keeper the wrong way and into the back of the net. Jurgen Klopp wasn’t too pleased with the decision as he sarcastically applauded the officials from the sideline.

There was to be no further contentious issues as the match finished as a 1-1 draw. Liverpool can feel hard done by given the number of VAR incidents against them during the match, but a Brighton loss would have equally been harsh.

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