Pascal Gross’s controversial penalty denies Liverpool victory against Brighton

Melissa Reddy
·4-min read

Late drama denied Diogo Jota an extension of being Liverpool’s game-changer as Pascal Gross converted a controversial penalty to earn Brighton a home point.

Saturday’s early kick off was pumped full of incidents: two disallowed goals, two spot-kicks - one of which was missed - and three muscle injuries.

With a third game in the week, Jurgen Klopp had gambled with his selection against Atalanta in the Champions League - a fixture ceded 2-0 at Anfield - to hopefully bank a victory here.

READ MORE: Five things we learned as Liverpool are held by Brighton

That was so close to being achieved until the 93rd minute, when an incident that wasn’t clear and obvious was forensically checked to give Brighton an opportunity to level matters.

<p>Brighton celebrate their last-minute equaliser</p>EPA

Brighton celebrate their last-minute equaliser


Graham Potter’s charges, in fairness, were worthy of a point.

Liverpool, with their 11th different centre-back pairing of the season in only the 17th game, made a fast start at the Amex, carving two openings inside four minutes.

That was short-lived, with Aaron Connolly becoming a persistent nuisance for the visitors.

Brighton were so close to profiting from their introductory attack of the game. Without any pressure on the ball from midfield - an issue throughout the first 45 for Liverpool - Neal Maupay turned on the halfway line and played a lovely throughball for Connolly to run onto.

The forward got between Nathaniel Phillips and Fabinho, but sidefooted just wide of the far post. Gross’s clever first-time pass almost had Connolly in again, but Alisson darted a long way from his area to thwart the danger.

Brighton finally extracted some joy from their probing, with the inexperience of teenager Neco Williams telling at right-back. The Liverpool youngster charged out to contest a bouncing ball and then was panicked into a clumsy tackle on Connolly, with referee Stuart Attwell pointing to the spot.

<p>Diogo Jota impresses again for Liverpool</p>PA

Diogo Jota impresses again for Liverpool


Maupay stepped up, sent Alisson the strong way, but struck his kick well wide and had to be subbed off two minutes later with a muscle injury.

Brighton were superior and should have been ahead, but were given a timely warning of how quickly Liverpool can cause damage.

Alisson directed a goal kick to Roberto Firmino on the right wing, who superbly chested down and lobbed it over the hosts’ defence for Salah.

The Egyptian dribbled through and finished with his weaker foot, but VAR ruled the goal out for a tight offside.

There was no breakthrough at the break with Klopp throwing on Jordan Henderson for the second half, with James Milner - another eventually suffering a muscle problem - moving to right-back as Williams went off.

The presence of the captain immediately uplifted Liverpool, who were better in possession, in the press and in terms of intensity.

There was still an opportunity for Brighton, but Danny Welbeck tried to beat Alisson from a tight angle when he should have played in Connolly or Leandro Trossard at the far post.

And then, Jota sprinkled gold dust on the encounter. In a move that showcased his desire to be the difference and his confidence that he can be, the Portugal international received Salah’s pass and skipped between Trossard and Ben White.

Jota continued to dummy Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk before hitting a low shot into the corner.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, on for Adam Lallana - his appearance against his former club sadly lasting all of eight minutes due to injury - missed a header late on, which Andy Robertson almost kneed in.

At the other end of the pitch, the left-back’s delivery from a free-kick was nodded in by Sadio Mane, but was ruled out for offside.

Brighton were awarded another penalty at the death. Robertson had kicked Welbeck’s foot and with no appeals, the VAR Kevin Friend had advised Attwell to check the incident again at the pitchside monitor.

With slow-motion replays, the referee pointed to the spot and Gross thundered his effort down the middle to earn a point.

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