LIVERPOOL — Liverpool’s hopes of back-to-back Premier League titles suffered a crushing blow as Steven Alzate’s second-half goal earned Brighton & Hove Albion a shock 1-0 win at Anfield on Wednesday.
Alzate was credited with bundling in the winner in the 56th minute and Liverpool could not respond as they failed to score for the third successive home league game.
It was Liverpool’s second home league defeat in a row after Burnley ended their 68-match unbeaten sequence at Anfield last month, also winning 1-0.
With leaders Manchester City beating Burnley earlier on Wednesday, fourth-placed Liverpool are now seven points behind Pep Guardiola’s side having played one game more.
Brighton followed up their weekend home win over Tottenham Hotspur with another disciplined display and a toothless Liverpool could have few complaints as the Seagulls claimed a first league win over Liverpool since 1982.
Mohamed Salah wasted their best chance in the first half, firing over the bar from Jordan Henderson’s flighted pass.
But Brighton looked comfortable and managed four shots on target compared to the one of Liverpool.
“It’s been coming. Massive win today,” Alzate said. “They’re champions for a reason. We stuck to our gameplan and it worked.
“I’m not sure (whether it’s my goal) but I’ll take it. It’s my first Premier League goal. Got to take that one.”
Brighton’s winning goal rather summed up Liverpool’s night.
A long diagonal pass was aimed at the towering Dan Burn at the back post and when he headed back across goal it was prodded away by defender Nathaniel Phillips but straight at Alzate who swung his leg at it and got just enough contact to send the ball back past Phillips and keeper Caoimhin Kelleher.
While Liverpool pressed in a desperate bid to break down Brighton’s blue defensive wall, they were occasionally exposed at the other end with Leandro Trossard and Yves Bissouma both going close to doubling Brighton’s advantage.
Brighton held on comfortably to move 10 points above the relegation zone into 15th place.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson admitted Liverpool had been second-best and had lost the knack of grinding out wins.
“Brighton came and were the better team. We were hugely disappointing all over the park,” he said. “Sometimes you have to give the opponents credit, but it’s just not clicking.
“Maybe teams are sitting back a bit more but we need to find a way to get results and we’re not getting results just now. We need to be better at finding a way.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond; Reuters