Jurgen Klopp sealed a win in his 350th match in charge of Liverpool as his side moved up to second in the Premier League after a 3-0 victory over Brentford at Anfield.
Despite dominating possession, Liverpool struggled to make the breakthrough during the first half as Brentford sat back in a compact low block shape to try and frustrate the hosts.
Just as Brentford were gaining more of a foothold in the game, Liverpool struck moments before the break as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner was headed in at the far-post by Fabinho, with the visitors allowing the ball to bounce in the six-yard box.
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Liverpool had their second in the 69th minute, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain headed in Andrew Robertson’s whipped cross.
The win was sealed for Klopp’s side seven minutes later, with Brentford getting caught playing the ball out from the back. Roberto Firmino capitalised on Alvaro Fernandez’s loose pass and laid it off to Takumi Minamino, who scored an easy tap-in shortly after coming on as a substitute.
Takumi Minamino of Liverpool celebrates with Roberto Firmino after scoring their team's third goal
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - No Mane? No Salah? No problem
The key talking point before the game again surrounded how Liverpool would adapt without Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah in the team, with both of their attacking stars at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal and Egypt respectively.
According to Opta, it was the first Liverpool league game since Salah joined the club in 2017 that both he and Mane were missing. Between them, the pair have scored 48% of the Reds' goals in the competition since the start of 2017-18 (180/378).
However, Liverpool made no mistake in the second half especially, scoring two goals, and it should have been more - with Diogo Jota hitting the post, and Kaide Gordon coming close to scoring on his Premier League debut in a 1 v 1 situation with Brentford goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez.
In total, Liverpool had 27 shots, with 13 of them on target. That shows that their attacking output remains strong, and chances can be created from all over the pitch despite their two main attacking threats not being present.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Fabinho (Liverpool)
The Brazilian once again is showing why he cannot be dropped for Liverpool, and produced another colossal performance from central midfield to help his side to an important league victory.
The 28-year-old opened the scoring for Liverpool, as he took advantage of Brentford allowing the ball to bounce in the six-yard box from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner and headed in nicely at the far post to get his third goal in three games in all competitions. Fabinho was key in Liverpool asserting their dominance in midfield, winning seven of his aerial duels. He also had a superb pass success rate of 92%, which include a total of four key passes.
'A tough one' - Klopp after Liverpool beat Brentford
Liverpool: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 8, Matip 8, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 8, Henderson 7, Fabinho 9, Jones 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Firmino 7, Jota 7. Subs: Milner 6, Gordon 6, Minamino 7.
Brentford: Fernandez 6, Ajer 6, Jansson 6, Pinnock 6, Henry 6, Roerslev 6, Baptiste 6, Norgaard 7, Janelt 6, Mbeumo , Toney 6. Subs: Canos 6, Wissa 6, Jensen 6.
23’ - SAVE! A whipped corner goes through to Van Dijk at the back post, he shoots low and hard but Fernandez makes a superb reaction save with his leg!
44’ - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Brentford (Fabinho): Fabinho heads the ball in from a corner! Alexander-Arnold delivers in the ball, and Brentford let it bounce in the box, before it falls to Fabinho at the far-post. He completely out-muscles Ajer and nods it beyond Fernandez to give the hosts a deserved lead!
58’ - WHAT A CHANCE! Brentford do well to win the ball back in midfield, and Norgaard plays in a delightful through ball for Mbeumo, but he hits the shot just wide of the post on the stretch!
69’ - GOAL! Liverpool 2-0 Brentford (Oxlade-Chamberlain): Oxlade-Chamberlain strikes for Liverpool from a header! Robertson whips in a delightful ball in from the left towards the far post, and the Ox does well to hold off Sergi Canos, before heading it in past Fernandez!
77' - GOAL! Liverpool 3-0 Brentford (Minamino): Shocking from Brentford, who play it out from the back and Fernandez once again gets caught with a loose pass. Firmino gets it and sets up Minamino, who is gifted an easy tap-in. Liverpool surely have the win now.
- Since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Thomas Müller (64) and Lionel Messi (47) have provided more assists in Europe's big-five leagues than Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold (42).
- Takumi Minamino is the fifth player to score a Premier League goal on his birthday for Liverpool, and first since Daniel Sturridge against Manchester United in September 2013.
- Brentford have now conceded two or more goals in their last seven away league games.
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