LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s Premier League title defence was on the brink of collapse after a 1-0 loss at home to Brighton on Wednesday, giving the champions back-to-back defeats at Anfield after a 68-match unbeaten run at their stadium.
That four-year undefeated streak was ended by Burnley two weeks ago and it was a similar story against Brighton as Liverpool dominated possession but lacked a cutting edge.
The visitors created the better of the chances and Steven Alzate seized the moment with his first Premier League goal, a scruffy effort from close range 11 minutes into the second half.
Liverpool, which has dropped points against five of the bottom six, was without goalkeeper Alisson Becker because of a non-COVID-related illness but the concerns were at the other end of the pitch, where Sadio Mane was also missing with a muscle injury.
Klopp’s wait for a 100th win at Anfield continues while Brighton made it four league matches without conceding. Brighton has taken 10 points from 12 and beaten the defending champions, Tottenham and Leeds along the way. The Seagulls climbed two places to 15th and are 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
The victory, Brighton's first at Anfield since 1982, owed much to the organization which manager Graham Potter has drilled into the Seagulls, defending en masse and then committing players to attack when they had the chance to take the game to the hosts.
That Liverpool’s best chance was its first of the evening after just three minutes told its own story.
Mohamed Salah was uncharacteristically wasteful with an early chance that was not unlike his brilliant second goal at West Ham on Sunday. This time, it was Jordan Henderson playing the raking pass out from the back and, although the Egypt international’s first touch was just as good as at the weekend, he blazed over.
Dan Burn wasted Brighton’s best opening by shooting over after Neil Maupay had sent Henderson and James Milner the wrong way, only for the striker's half-deflected shot to pick out his teammate close to goal.
In the second half, Roberto Firmino may have been brought down by Burn in the act of shooting but Nat Phillips’ nudge on Lewis Dunk denied Liverpool a chance for VAR to look at the penalty claim.
Salah side-footed wide from Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross and drilled a shot against the upper arm of Yves Bissouma but the visitors were carving out chances, too, as only Henderson’s last-ditch tackle denied Ben White after Caoimhin Kelleher — making only his second Premier League appearance — saved Pascal Gross’ shot.
Liverpool’s two new defensive signings watched from the Main Stand. Ben Davies was on the bench and Ozan Kabak sat just behind not in the squad, but it was problems at the other end which were costly.
Klopp’s side missed the thrust of Mane, whom the manager will hope has recovered in time for the visit of Manchester City on Sunday, as Liverpool cannot afford another off-day against the league leader.
The loss dropped Liverpool to fourth and left the team seven points behind City, which has a match in hand.
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The Associated Press