See how Mo Salah punished Super Eagles star Leon Balogun in narrow win
The Egyptian won a third spot-kick in four Premier League games to earn the Reds a crucial 1-0 win at Brighton that moves them seven points clear. “It is not easy to stay at the top,” Fernandinho mused after Manchester City cut the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool last Thursday week, “The pressure is so high.”
The Brazilian midfielder may well have been mischievously engaging in some mind games but he had a point. Even Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admitted after his team’s first defeat of the season, at the Etihad, “It’s all about the reaction now.”
The subsequent FA Cup loss to Wolves was unsurprisingly dismissed as a blessing in disguise, with elimination giving the Reds one less tournament to worry about. However, there was no way dropping points at Brighton on Saturday could have been glossed over.
It felt like a must-win game; an unmissable opportunity to silence those gleefully claiming that the City loss would precipitate the collapse of Liverpool’s title challenge. Not to mention put seven points between themselves and City again, ahead of the champions’ meeting with Wolves on Monday night.
In the end, Liverpool got the job done, but only just, with Mohamed Salah’s spot-kick the only difference between the two sides at the Amex. The identity of the match-winner was obviously no surprise – only Lionel Messi (16) has scored more goals than the Egyptian (14) in any of Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues this season.