Jurgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s “most mature performance of the season” after they got their title challenge back on track by grinding out an unconvincing 1-0 win at Brighton.
Klopp’s table-topping Reds have stuttered since the turn of the year, losing their unbeaten Premier League record to champions Manchester City before limping out of the FA Cup at Wolves.
The Merseyside club were far from their best at the Amex Stadium but Mohamed Salah’s second-half penalty was enough to restore their seven-point lead over second-placed City.
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Klopp admitted his side can perform better but dismissed the lack of entertainment against stubborn opposition by saying they “are not the Harlem Globetrotters”.
“It was not the best performance of the season in a few departments but from a maturity point of view, I would say it is the most mature performance in the season,” he said.
“We are not Circus Roncalli, we are not the Harlem Globetrotters. We have to deliver results.
“On a good day, everybody can win football games, on an average day not a lot of teams can win football games, and on bad days only a few can win football games. Today was not a bad day but it was a difficult day for us.
“It was just a difficult day because we have to say that Brighton is doing really well.”
Egypt forward Salah, who retained his African Player of the Year title earlier this week, smashed home his 14th league goal of the season from the spot in the 49th-minute after he was felled by Pascal Gross.
The strike was enough to put more daylight between the division’s top two teams, although Pep Guardiola’s City can close the gap back to four points when they face Wolves on Monday.
Klopp felt it was important to ‘climb back on the horse’ following the recent blip as the Reds chase a first title in 29 years.
“Not because (the defeat) was to Manchester City, it’s just important,” added the German.
“If you fall from the horse as a rider, the best thing you can do is go immediately back on it. Do you use that saying as well in England? You have more horses anyway than we, we probably stole it from you.
“It’s cool, it’s good and it’s important but we didn’t make a fuss of the two defeats.”
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Brighton boss Chris Hughton had no complaints about the award of the decisive spot-kick but felt Liverpool received some favourable decisions from referee Kevin Friend.
Friend frustrated the majority of the 30,682 crowd – an Amex Stadium record – by awarding a series of free-kicks to the visitors, particularly late in the game.
“One thing I always understand is that the referee has a very difficult job and he has to make judgement calls on the whole of the 90 minutes,” said Hughton.
“I just thought on the balance of decisions – no malice to the referee, he’s trying to do the best job he can – but I thought that it favoured Liverpool on the balance of decisions he made.”
Mid-table Brighton, who have now lost all four of their Premier League meetings with the Reds, failed to produce a shot on target but never looked like being overrun.
Hughton added: “As regards the way that we played, I thought it was the right tactics on the day against the best team in the country.
“In the end, really delighted that we ran them as close as we did.”