Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side are no longer “childish” in controlling matches after Mohamed Salah’s penalty edged out Brighton to extend their leave to seven points at the top of the Premier League.
The Reds dominated with over 70% possession against their cagey hosts but created little in a workmanlike performance until Salah was felled in the area by Pascal Gross.
The Egyptian duly lashed the spot-kick left-footed across his body and into the net for a 17th goal of the season.
Brighton briefly rallied, with Fabinho – at the heart of Liverpool’s defence for the injured Dejan Lovren – producing a key block to deny Gross in the area as the home side failed to register a shot on target.
“I think it was the most mature performance we have made so far,” Klopp told BBC Sport. “There were a few situations where we could have been a bit more inspired, creative and cool.
Klopp embraced Salah at the final whistle after his side had seen off sporadic bursts of pressure from their hosts in the closing stages.
The threat of a third straight defeat was held at bay after a loss to City and an FA Cup loss at Wolves, and the Reds can still boast being without back-to-back league defeats under Klopp’s charge.
At the Amex, they demonstrated the efficiency and control of a side capable of winning while not at their best.
Salah – who had just 13 touches in a quiet first half – produced a single moment of game-defining trickery to tangle with Gross, and it proved enough as Liverpool eased to a 13th clean sheet of the season.
Georginio Wijnaldum flashed a shot wide and Salah missed a glorious chance from six yards after a James Milner pullback, which would have provided late breathing space.
But on a day where the heart of Liverpool’s defence was shuffled – with Fabinho joining Virgil van Dijk to cover for injuries – Klopp pointed to an “unbelievably mature” display by his side as they returned to form.