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Player ratings as Kaoru Mitoma snatches stoppage-time FA Cup victory for Seagulls

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Kaoru Mitoma snatched victory for Brighton in stoppage time, volleying the Seagulls to a 2-1 win at home to Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.

Lewis Dunk cancelled out Harvey Elliott’s opener in a first half Liverpool had the better of. Yet, Jurgen Klopp’s side, who were subjected to “worst game I have ever seen” against Brighton a fortnight ago, never came out from the dressing room, ceding all the initiative to Brighton which Mitoma duly made them pay for.

With the stench of a humbling 3-0 defeat on this ground two weeks ago still fresh in the nostrils, Liverpool incited wild opening exchanges. Funnelling their early attacks down Mohamed Salah’s right flank, the Egyptian forced Dunk into a goal-line clearance in the fourth minute.

When Brighton dialled down the tempo, blocking off Liverpool’s passing lanes rather than stretching themselves with a full-throttle high press, they threatened in transition. Evan Ferguson had an effort for the hosts cleared off the line in the first quarter-hour after springing forward from a more measured mid-block.

However, Roberto De Zerbi’s side didn’t (or couldn’t) abandon their proactive instincts, pressing up the pitch and leaving yawning chasms behind their backline. Elliott slipped Salah into that open grass after 25 minutes but watched his teammate drag a limp effort wide of an inviting goal.

Elliott wasn’t as generous five minutes later. Speeding down that troublesome right flank with Brighton’s backline pulled all over the pitch – caught trying to press Liverpool in the final third – Elliott forced the ball through Jason Steele’s gloves and into the bottom corner.

Dunk got the final touch on an equaliser which came against the run of play at the end of the first half. Tariq Lamptey thumped a loose ball from the top of the box into a crowd of bodies at a Brighton corner kick. Dunk was front of the queue, inadvertently diverting the ball past a wrong-footed Alisson in the 40th minute.

Brighton came out from the break reinvigorated. With the scholarly Mitoma seeing more and more of the ball, Liverpool’s rear-guard began to creak. Intriguingly, Klopp reacted by replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold with James Milner at right-back.

Shortly after his arrival, Mitoma breezed by the 37-year-old to square for Solly March. Six yards from goal, March was smothered by the on-rushing Alisson.

Brighton’s danger wasn’t limited to Milner’s flank. March skipped down the right wing in the final ten minutes, forcing the ball back for Ferguson who had a close-range effort blocked by the omnipresent Ibrahima Konate.

Substitute Fabinho, who only entered in the dying embers of the game, was fortunate to avoid a red card after VAR surprisingly declined to upgrade the on-field decision of a yellow for a nasty challenge on the Achilles of Ferguson, who had to be substituted soon after.

Liverpool had just one, off target, shot in the second half, clearly settling for a replay. Mitoma scratched off any plans of another encounter, collecting the ball at the back post from a late set piece, juggling the ball over Joe Gomez before stuffing a 92nd-minute into the roof of the net.

Lewis Dunk

Brighton celebrate Lewis Dunk’s first-half equaliser / Bryn Lennon/GettyImages

GK: Jason Steele – 4/10 – Got plenty of glove on Elliott’s opener but still couldn’t keep it out.

RB: Tariq Lamptey – 7/10 – Forced the equaliser but was kept very busy going the other way, leaping into a raft of last-ditch tackles which still didn’t halt all of Liverpool’s forward thrusts.

CB: Adam Webster – 4/10 – Regularly bypassed by multiple Liverpool through balls. Hooked at the interval.

CB: Lewis Dunk – 7/10 – Understandably struggled when isolated with Salah high up the pitch but was all-action elsewhere, playing a crucial role in both boxes to score (accidentally) and clear off the line.

LB: Pervis Estupinan – 5/10 – Launched a raft of surges down the left wing but left roof behind him which Liverpool didn’t hesitate to attack.

RM: Solly March – 5/10 – Eager to speed off Andy Robertson’s shoulder, March didn’t always make the most of the space he was afforded.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister – 5/10 – Struggled to progress the ball up the pitch, settling for safely recycling possession in midfield.

CM: Pascal Gross – 6/10 – Filling in for the absent Moises Caicedo, Brighton’s (German) Swiss army knife lived up to his dependable status in whatever role is required.

LM: Kaoru Mitoma – 8/10 – A menacing presence when he was given enough space to unleash his dribbling mastery. Those opportunities dramatically increased after the break.

ST: Danny Welbeck – 6/10 – Shadowed Stefan Bajcetic off the ball diligently, though didn’t see much of it himself.

ST: Evan Ferguson – 4/10 – Got the ball caught under his feet as he lined up a first-half shot, allowing Trent Alexander-Arnold to get back and clear off the line.

Substitutes

Joel Veltman (46′ for Webster) – 6/10 – Shored up Brighton’s backline after the break.

Billy Gilmour (67′ for Welbeck) – 5/10

Deniz Undav (89′ for Ferguson) – N/A

Manager

Roberto De Zerbi – 7/10 – After a half-time talk that may well have been spikey – based on the way he vibrated through his half-time interview – Brighton were much improved.

Mohamed Salah, Pervis Estupinan

Mohamed Salah racing Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan (left) for the ball / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

GK: Alisson – 7/10 – Hopped entirely past the ball when Dunk diverted it towards goal but was crucially in the way to deny March after the break.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7/10 – Made an excellent goal-line clearance in the first 15 minutes and wasn’t overly troubled by Mitoma. Surprisingly taken off for the final half-hour.

CB: Ibrahima Konate – 8/10 – Combined his raw speed with a quickness of thought to stay one step ahead of Brighton’s forwards.

CB: Joe Gomez – 6/10 – A little too eager to engage with the opposition forward but didn’t over-commit himself too often.

LB: Andy Robertson – 3/10 – Didn’t offer a great deal going forward while leaving the left-hand side of Liverpool’s rearguard open. Not a good combination.

CM: Naby Keita – 6/10 – Escaped the scrutiny of VAR as the ball clearly hit his arm in the buildup for Liverpool’s opener.

CM: Stefan Bajcetic – 5/10 – Didn’t have his minimal impact on the game aided by an early yellow card.

CM: Thiago Alcantara – 6/10 – Given a bit more licence to roam compared to his midfield colleagues but was keen to hold his position off the ball.

RW: Mohamed Salah – 5/10 – Got into a glut of threatening positions but didn’t take full advantage of them.

ST: Cody Gakpo – 7/10 – Dropping deep into midfield, leaving room for Salah to narrow and dart in behind and growing in confidence when weaving forward from that removed position.

LW: Harvey Elliott – 7/10 – Floating in off the flank into positions where his incisive passing could offer more threat.

Substitutes

Darwin Nunez (59′ for Elliott) – 6/10

James Milner (59′ for Alexander-Arnold) – 4/10

Jordan Henderson (59′ for Keita) – 5/10

Curtis Jones (79′ for Thiago) – N/A

Fabinho (85′ for Bajcetic) – N/A

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 4/10 – The steady introduction of his experienced players weakened the team. In the end, Liverpool didn’t deserve a replay.

Player of the match – Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)

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