Salah scores winner as Liverpool move top

Salah scored his 16th Premier League goal

Liverpool will finish the weekend at the at the top of the Premier League after Mohamed Salah fired the winner against Brighton at Anfield before Manchester City and Arsenal drew.

The Reds knew a victory against Brighton could prove significant with their title rivals playing each other in Sunday’s late kick-off.

Liverpool fell behind early on but fought back to win 2-1 and climb above Arsenal – and their stay at the summit was extended when City and the Gunners played out a goalless draw.

Liverpool are on 67 points with nine rounds of matches remaining, while Arsenal – who have a superior goal difference – are second on 65 points, with City one point further back in third.

Earlier, Brighton striker Danny Welbeck stunned Jurgen Klopp’s side by thumping a strike into the top corner with only 87 seconds on the clock.

Liverpool responded strongly and began to dominate possession, with Luis Diaz poking home the equaliser from close range before the half-hour mark.

Salah, making his first league start since New Year’s Day, had missed a host of chances but eventually made one count when he coolly slotted in from Alexis Mac Allister’s pass in the 65th minute.

The hosts thought they had all but sealed the win when Diaz fired in after 73 minutes, but his effort was ruled out by the video assistant referee for a tight offside.

Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk came closest to snatching a draw for the visitors, but saw two headers saved by home keeper Caoimhin Kelleher in quick succession.

Former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana also fired wide just moments after coming on as a substitute late on.

Ultimately, Salah’s strike proved the difference, as relieved Reds fans greeted the final whistle with an exuberant celebration.

Salah the match-winner – eventually

The title race has developed into a fascinating three-way battle where it feels like every dropped point could be crucial.

And, with Liverpool playing before their two rivals went head-to-head, Easter Sunday had long been circled as a potentially pivotal day in the league campaign.

All the Reds could do was focus on winning their game against a Brighton side with a good record against Klopp’s team, led by a manager in Roberto de Zerbi who was touted as a potential successor to the German.

The hosts had to show fight, belief, and patience before Salah, not for the first time, ended up being the match-winner in a game of huge magnitude.

For more than an hour it had looked like it was not going to be the Egyptian forward’s day as a host of chances went begging for the Reds talisman.

Salah had seven shots in the first half without really stretching Brighton keeper Bart Verbruggen, while he could not quite reach Diaz’s dinked cross to the far post after half-time.

Another opportunity came when Mac Allister’s slick through ball cut through his former club’s defence and this time Salah found the bottom corner with a composed finish.

Only time will tell – especially with so many twists and turns to come in the remaining nine rounds of fixtures – exactly how important this victory proves to be.

De Zerbi’s Brighton impress in defeat

Brighton have been something of a bogey team for Liverpool, coming into this meeting having lost just once to the Reds in their seven previous matches.

De Zerbi has won many admirers for his style and tactical nous, drawing praise from Klopp before the game and having never previously been beaten by the German.

Welbeck’s early opener – an instinctive first-time shot into the top corner in front of the Kop – suggested it could be another successful day for the Seagulls.

Brighton defended deeply and compactly as they tried to preserve their lead, using the pace of Ivory Coast winger Simon Adingra on the left to threaten on the counter.

There were half-chances for the visitors to double their lead, with Adingra, Welbeck and Jakub Moder all going close before the break.

Even when they fell behind Brighton refused to roll over and De Zerbi’s attacking changes nearly resulted in Lallana returning to haunt his former club.

But they could not nick a point and the defeat means the Seagulls remain in ninth place.

If De Zerbi – whose future remains unclear – can ensure Brighton qualify again for European football it will be another superb achievement, with his squad having been badly hit by injuries this campaign.

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