Football Features

Adam Lallana shows Liverpool what they’re missing as Brighton’s brilliant comeback earns 2-2 Anfield draw

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:30, 30 October 2021

In an interesting afternoon of football, Brighton came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool at Anfield.

The comeback from the Seagulls was dramatic but in all honesty they were always in the game as it pertained to the balance of play and indeed the two biggest saves of the first-half were made by Alisson in the Liverpool goal. So when Graham Potter’s men did fire their way back into the game it wasn’t even that much of a surprise, albeit the man at the heart of the comeback may have been a shock.

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It sounds ridiculous, given all that Liverpool have achieved as a team and the level they’ve been playing at so far this season, to say that they made a mistake in letting Adam Lallana go. They obviously didn’t, even though they have one precisely 0 Premier League titles since he left the club in summer 2020. Seriously though, Lallana was a valuable servant for the club and his goal at Old Trafford in Autumn 2019, turning a defeat into a draw and ensuring the Reds rampaged all over winter, meant as much as any other Liverpool scored en route to winning their first Premier League title for 30 years.

Moreover, Lallana does have something that the current Liverpool team does not; a bit of guile, a bit of wit. He also has a whole lot of heart and tenacity, but to be fair Liverpool’s midfield has that in abundance.

Although it’s worth noting that Lallana made more tackles by himself (5) than all the Liverpool midfielders did put together (4). Playing what was essentially a false nine, as Brighton’s most advanced player in central positions, linking with the lateral movement of Jakub Moder, Leandro Trossard and Solly March. Trossard was nominally the striker but he found himself attacking the half-spaces as Lallana ran the show from the middle.

That’s exactly how it was for Brighton’s crucial second goal. Where their first was a superb strike from Enock Mwepu caught out Alisson who was temporarily blinded by the sunlight, their second was a goal that was beautifully Brighton.

Having worked the ball back to Robert Sanchez, stood 10 yards outside his own box at Anfield, naturally, the goalkeeper fizzed a beautiful low pass out wide to Marc Cucurella who was in space. The wing-back jogged forward and then arced a gorgeous cross in behind the Liverpool midfield to find Lallana in that false nine role just ahead of the Reds back-line.

Lallana killed the ball with one touch and it bounced ahead of him. Lallana then froze, not touching the ball again and letting it roll. That pause completely freezes Virgil van Dijk in front of him as the Dutchman is now waiting to see what Lallana will hint at doing.

But Lallana gives no hints until with his second touch he slips the ball through to Leandro Trossard. Suddenly the Belgian is goalside of Van Dijk and needs only to skip inside Andrew Robertson and lash it home beyond Alisson. Neither of which is easy, of course, but he was put into the best possible position to succeed by Adam Lallana’s ingenuity.

The kind of ingenuity that Liverpool could not offer in return. The Reds couldn’t break Brighton down when they really needed to. Sure they scored two early goals, but one was a header from a cross and the other a superb finish from a cutback. When they needed some creativity in midfield, a clever pass or just a midfielder who knows not to take a second touch and reveal his intention before the time is right, they were found wanting.

Now, yes, this is because Thiago is injured. But it’s also because they let Adam Lallana go, and he took his talents to the south coast where he is helping Brighton do brilliant things like get a point from a fully-packed Anfield when Liverpool are in superhuman form. And to be fair, Anfield definitely still appreciates him given the rapturous standing ovation they gave him when he was subbed off after 72 minutes of sublime football.


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