SOCCER: Liverpool 4-0 Brighton & Hove Albion – VIDEO goals, highlights
Liverpool 4-0 Brighton & Hove Albion – Sunday May 13, 2018
BBC SPORTS – Mohamed Salah set a new Premier League scoring record as Liverpool sealed a place in next season’s Champions League with an empathic victory over Brighton.
It was an impressive performance on a perfect sunny afternoon at Anfield and Jurgen Klopp’s side lingered long after the final whistle, soaking up the celebratory atmosphere with the Champions League final against Real Madrid to come on 26 May.
Salah was the centre of attention as he was feted on his side’s home pitch after the match. There was the Golden Boot for Premier League’s top scorer to be presented, the club’s player of the year trophy too. The forward was clearly moved, and he shared the moment with his wife and young daughter.
It was his record goal that set the Reds on course to blowing Brighton away. The opener, a low finish from Dominic Solanke’s pass, was his 32nd goal of the campaign – the most by a player in a 38-game Premier League season.
Dejan Lovren doubled the lead by powerfully heading in Andrew Robertson’s cross and after the break it was more of the same – Liverpool continued to dominate.
Solanke smashed in his first goal for the club off the underside of the bar, having met Salah’s lay-off at the end of a strong run, while full-back Andrew Robertson also got his first Liverpool goal, sweeping in from close range with five minutes to play.
Liverpool would have slipped out of the top four had they lost and Chelsea beaten Newcastle, but they made sure the Blues’ performance – a 3-0 defeat at St James’ Park – was irrelevant.
Victory meant the Reds matched their fourth-place finish of last season – they would have moved up to third had Tottenham not edged a thrilling 5-4 win at home to Leicester – while Brighton ended their first top-flight campaign since 1983 in the safety of 15th.
Salah scored his 32 goal of the Premier League season – a record over a 38-game campaign
Salah the record breaker
What a remarkable season it has been for Egypt forward Salah, who signed from Roma for £34m last summer.
Some doubted his ability to perform in England following his disappointing spell at Chelsea, but the goal that broke the Premier League record was his 44th in 51 games for Liverpool in all competitions this season.
Alan Shearer scored 31 for Blackburn in 1995-96, Cristiano Ronaldo did the same for Manchester United in 2007-08, and Luis Suarez netted 31 for Liverpool in 2013-14.
Shearer, for Blackburn in 1994-95, and Andy Cole, for Newcastle United in 1993-94, jointly hold the Premier League scoring record for a 42-match season – with 34 goals.
Perhaps that total is what Salah was thinking of when he was taken off with five minutes remaining, visibly disappointed. He left with Brighton at their most vulnerable, weary and exhausted from an afternoon living on their nerves against Liverpool’s attack.
Earlier on Sunday, Salah added the Premier League’s Player of the Season award to the two other major individual prizes he was won this year – the PFA Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year awards.
But with the Champions League final against Real – winners of the past two tournaments – to come, the biggest piece of silverware is still to be settled.
Brighton beaten – but they will be back
Chris Hughton’s Brighton team can feel proud of what they have achieved this season. Many will have tipped them for relegation, but they have proved themselves more than capable of competing at English football’s elite level.
There was the impressive 3-0 victory at West Ham in October, March’s 2-1 home win over Arsenal at the end of a five-match unbeaten run, and a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, where they lost to Manchester United.
Revenge over United came in the shape of a 1-0 win that confirmed their Premier League status on 4 May, and survival was always the only aim for Brighton this season – Hughton said it “meant everything”.
But perhaps there will be a slight regret over their end-of-season form. The 4 March victory over Arsenal put the Seagulls 10th in the table, after which they fell sharply over a run of seven matches without a win.
A 10th-place finish would have earned them £21.4m in prize money – the take for finishing 15th will instead be £11.6m. Regardless, the most important thing has been achieved – they will be back next season.
Man of the match – Mohamed Salah
How can you overlook the man of the moment? Salah and all the other Liverpool players remained on the Anfield turf for a long time after the final whistle
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: May 13, 2018 at 02:04PM