Friday, December 8

Tailor-made Diaz has Klopp purring as Liverpool beat Brighton to remain hot on Man City’s heels

Brighton 0-2 Liverpool: Match Statistics

Before this game, Jurgen Klopp was asked to sum up the impact Luis Diaz has made since his move to Liverpool.

“Good, great, outstanding,” were the words the Liverpool boss chose, and having watched Saturday’s 2-0 win at Brighton, who could disagree?

You don’t get many £50 million ($68m) bargains, but the Colombian looks to be exactly that, a signing so tailor-made for the Reds that he may as well have turned up singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and referring to his teammates as ‘la’ or ‘kidda’.

He was too good for Brighton here, his second Premier League goal setting Liverpool on their way to a victory which means they remain hot on the heels of Manchester City, just three points behind the league leaders once again.

Klopp might want to add ‘courageous’ to his list of adjectives now. Diaz was certainly that when heading his side into the lead, 19 minutes in.

It was a superb pass from Joel Matip, the newly-crowned Premier League player of the month, which created the opportunity, Diaz keeping his eye on the ball to nod home, taking an almighty whack from Robert Sanchez, the Brighton goalkeepers, as the ball rolled into the unguarded net. 

Liverpool’s celebrations were subdued, Diaz’s team-mates quickly beckoning for the medical team.

The treatment was lengthy, but by the time the goalscorer stood up, the away end was singing his name. 

Sanchez, certainly, was fortunate to escape further punishment.

The Spaniard was both high and reckless with his challenge, and it was a mystery, to say the least, that Mike Dean, the referee, was not advised by Stuart Attwell, the VAR, to have another look at the incident. Sanchez was not even booked as it turned out.

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Diaz was able to carry on. Lucky for him, and for Liverpool too, with the 25-year-old the game’s outstanding player. 

It is not just his quality which has endeared him so to supporters, and to Klopp, but everything that goes with it. It’s the discipline, the work-rate, the willingness to sacrifice himself for the team. 

No player in red covered more distance than he did here. Only Fabinho contested more tackles and only Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane won possession more frequently.

Diaz’s touch is sublime, but his attitude stands out just as much. He never stops and he might have had even more to show for his first away Premier League start.

Had Mohamed Salah’s radar not been off then he would have collected an assist, and had he not taken the ball too close to Sanchez after being sent clear by Thiago Alcantara late on, he’d have picked up another goal too.

In the end, his contribution was more than sufficient, and how those Liverpool fans cheered as, after another enterprising, purposeful run, he won his side a corner right in front of them in stoppage time.

Even in the 93rd minute, there he was, grafting away for the cause. Just as Klopp would have dreamt it.