That’s all for our coverage of a fine FA Cup tie, which will remembered for an ingenious winning goal from Kaoru Mitoma. I’ll leave you with David Hytner’s match report from the Amex Stadium – goodnight.
Andy Robertson’s verdict
It’s bitterly disappointing. I thought it was a proper cup tie – end to end, both teams had chances. Today we were slightly better than two weeks ago, but at the end of the day we’re out of the cup. It’s so disappointing.
We need to start winning games. It’s easy to say and harder to fix. This season has been nowhere near good enough. We wanted a new start at the turn of the year; if anything we’ve been worse.
You can’t put your finger on one thing that’s gone wrong, it’s more than that. You can tell we’re not confident in front of goal; we’re still a bit open defensively. We need to get our confidence back. I feel sorry for the fans. They were unbelievable today and we’ve let them down again.
“Justice,” says Richard Cutler. “Sweet, sweet justice. I love you Kaoru Mitoma!”
Lewis Dunk speaks
Unbelievable ending. We weren’t at our best today, but we ground it out against a really good opponent. [Did you mean your goal?] Course I didn’t! It just hit me, but I haven’t scored in a long time so I needed one of them.
We were very good against them 15 days ago and beat them, what was it, 4-1 or whatever [3-0], so they were always going to want to beat us today. We had to dig in and fight.
We feel like we can beat anyone on our best days, and today we showed we can beat teams when we’re not at our best.
I’m glad he [Kaoru Mitoma] is in our side. I’m glad I’m not chasing him. He’s come from nowhere and we’re just lucky to have him.
“There’s something about Mitoma’s decision-making in big moments,” says Mark Harrison. “I was going to call it composure, but it’s more than that - it’s real out-of-the-box thinking, sometimes under incredible pressure. The fake shot and quick finish was really something special from him.”
I’ll say. That goal was genius.
It’s yet another golden day for Brighton, who continue to lose players for huge money and continue to rise regardless. Kaoru Mitoma, who cost about £3m, scored the most glorious injury-time winner to settle an excellent game. It was a perfect demonstration of everything that makes Mitoma one of the most likeable players in English football right now: technique, imagination, style, and a resting heart-rate when everyone else is racing through the cardio zone.
Liverpool were infinitely better than on their previous visit a fortnight ago, with Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo particularly impressive, but it’s another huge blow in a traumatic season. The Champions League – 2022/23 and 2023/24 – is all they have left.
90+6 min: Brighton substitution Jan Paul van Hecke is on for Tariq Lamptey.
Full time: Brighton 2-1 Liverpool
The holders are out of the FA Cup!
90+5 min This result would be a bit harsh on Liverpool, who have played well for much of the game, but it’s hard to begrudge Brighton anything at the moment. And it’s impossible to begrudge Kaoru Mitoma.
GOAL GIVEN! Estupinan was just about onside. And thank goodness for that, because a goal of such unique brilliance does not deserve to be disallowed on a tedious, irrelevant technicality.
Estupinan stood up a cross beyond the far post, where Mitoma controlled the ball on the half-volley, six yards out. Three Liverpool players charged out to block, so he lobbed the ball gently over Gomez, who had the obvious shot covered. Then, in the same movement, he flicked a gymnastic volley into the roof of the net. It’s an outrageous finish, so deft and quick-witted, but it might be disallowed.
Robertson’s foul led to the goal. Gross drove the free-kick beyond the far post to the unmarked Estupinan. Hang on, he might be offside…
GOAL! Brighton 2-1 Liverpool (Mitoma 90+2)
This kid is a genius!!!
90+1 min Five minutes of added time.
90 min And now Robertson is booked for a wild shin-tap on Mac Allister. That wasn’t a million miles away from a red card either.
89 min: Brighton substitution Deniz Undav replaces Evan Ferguson, who had another terrific game. During his recent emergence, different things have caught the eye in different games – today it was the quality of his hold-up and link play. He is, if I may go a little Pseuds Corner on your derriere, like an album that reveals something new with each listen.
88 min The VAR check is complete, and Fabinho is a lucky man. Ferguson is on his feet but limping very heavily.
87 min Ferguson is still down, and Fabinho is shaking his head a little ruefully. He looks surprised at his own … I don’t know what word to use. Indiscipline? Thuggery?
87 min I think Fabinho’s in trouble here.
86 min Fabinho is booked for plunging his studs into Ferguson’s achilles, and VAR are checking for a red card.
85 min: Liverpool substitution Fabinho replaces the quietly impressive Stefan Bajcetic.
84 min Hang on, the ITV commentary team are suggesting VAR can’t get involved anyway. So they can intervene for serious foul play but not for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity? I’ve not a scooby any more.
83 min Mac Allister is still down. There’s no suggestion that VAR are checking the incident, which is a bit strange. It was clearly a foul; the only issue is whether it was a clear goalscoring opportunity. I think it was.
82 min Mac Allister runs onto a long pass and goes over after being shoved in the neck by the last man Konate. The referee gives nothing, and the Brighton fans are fuming because a foul would sure have meant a red card.
80 min: Chance for Brighton! March beats Bajcetic, gets to the byline and cuts tbe ball back towards Mac Allister at the near post. Gomez’s woolly clearance goes straight to Ferguson, who belabours a shot from eight yards that is brilliantly blocked by the stretching Konate.
80 min “Who owns Brighton?” says David Horn. “Can’t Liverpool just buy them?”
79 min: Liverpool substitution Curtis Jones replaces Thiago.
77 min Alisson has to run a long way outside his area to beat March to Steele’s long punt.
76 min After a good move involving Bajcetic and Gakpo, Robertson’s cross is slightly too close to Steele.
Gakpo has been terrific since about the half-hour mark.
74 min “Poor old Jürgen has only served half the time Bill Shankly chalked up,” says Nigel Moore, “and already the vultures are circling waiting for a peck. Give him a break!”
You are familiar with a thing called the modern world, right? (Mind you, if everyone is ever going to do 15 years at a big club again, it probably is Klopp>0
72 min Liverpool break dangerously, but Nunez’s pass is slightly behind Salah. Lamptey fouls him and is lucky not to be booked.
71 min: Vital save by Alisson! Dunk curls a fine pass out to Mitoma on the left. He takes an insouciant touch and stabs the most delicious, precise cross with the outside of the right foot. March charges onto it, eight yards from goal, and rams a shot that hits the outrushing Alisson, rebounds off March and flies wide of the near post.
70 min “The taking one for the team foul by Dunk, as perfected by Ramos, should be clamped down on with an orange sin-bin card,” says Andy Tuohy. “If it has literally stopped a goalscoring opportunity it needs to be punished much harder. I’m all for sin-bins.”
Sin-bins and VAR; what’s the worst that could happen?
That’s a rhetorical question, please don’t email your scenarios.
69 min The increasingly influential Gakpo plays a good return pass to Milner, whose cross is headed behind by Dunk. Milner was shoved slightly by Estupinan as he shaped to cross, though it wasn’t enough for a penalty.
67 min: Brighton substitution Billy Gilmour replaces Danny Welbeck. Alexis Mac Allister will now play behind/alongside Evan Ferguson.
67 min “Obviously, I live in fear of Klopp leaving,” says Matt Dony. “But, can you think of anything funnier than seeing him rock up at PSG?”
I have to be honest, the first season of Peep Show would give it a run for its money.
66 min This is a good spell for Liverpool, their best of the second half.
64 min “Huh?” sniffs Bill Ireland. “Lots of jobs fit Klopp’s personality (many clubs have enthusiastic fans) and there isn’t any reason to think he would be uncomfortable working for rich owners- FSG are rich and they spend a lot of money to buy better opportunities for success.
“On the scale of football ownership, FSG has more in common with PSG than Dortmund or Mainz. Klopp seems likeable through a media prism and he’s been very successful but let’s not assume he shares your values or opinions. He’s not wearing a hair shirt or choosing to pass on opportunities to manage wealthy clubs.”
I think Klopp likes being, if not the underdog, then at least a relative outsider who prefers punching up and down. That’s just ma pinion; I guess we’ll find out in the next few years. Also, who says they are my values? Yes, it’s true, I did win the Champions League with Margate on Championship Manager 2001-02, but that shouldn’t necessarily define me.
63 min Dunk is booked for a brazenly cuynical foul on Gakpo, who had slipped him beautifully and was making a beeline for the penalty area. Gakpo has grown into this game and is doing a decent impression of Roberto Firmino with his pressing and slippery movement.
62 min Konate is booked for wiping out Ferguson, who has held the ball up really well today. Those two might be meeting in the Euro 2024 qualifiers in March.
60 min Milner plays a brilliant, Alexander-Arnoldian ball around the defence towards Salah. His touch takes him a bit wide and eventually Steele beats away his cross.
59 min: Triple substitution for Liverpool James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Darwin Nunez replace Trent Alexander-Arnold, who isn’t thrilled to come off, Harvey Elliott and Naby Keita.
57 min Alexander-Arnold’s wicked cross is chested wide by Salah, who missed his attempted header. Salah was slightly offside anyway, but Gakpo – who was probably in a better position – was not.
55 min: Chance for Brighton! Mitoma slows down on the left edge of the area, then scoots away from Alexander-Arnold and into the box. Alisson blocks his cross-shot from a tight angle and the ball spins towards March at the far post. He chests it down to Gross, who can’t get over the bouncing ball and slaps it over the bar.
That was an exhilarating change of pace from Mitoma, who is starting to make himself at home in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s subconscious.
54 min Brighton are pressing a bit more aggressively since half-time, and they’ve been the better team so far.
53 min “Mate, admit it,” says Ian Copestake. “You get paid for every mention of Mitoma.”
I get paid for my time*, but I don’t know about Mitoma.
50 min Gakpo fouls Mac Allister 30 yards from goal. Dunk wobbles a beach-ball free-kick that goes a few yards wide of the far post. Alisson probably had it covered.
49 min “Wouldn’t Klopp go for the romance option post Liverpool?” says Graeme Neill. “A few years out then go back to Mainz once it becomes available again. I can’t see him doing many more jobs post Liverpool (a time I hope doesn’t happen for years).”
Hmm, maybe, but I can’t see it being his next job. I’d imagine he’ll do one more longish stint, where it’s with Germany or a club side. Maybe he’d be tempted by the challenge of one of Serie A’s fallen giants.
48 min A wicked inswinging cross from March just evades Mitoma, who got away from Alexander-Arnold at the back post.
47 min Mitoma surges past Alexander-Arnold, who gets away with a clear obstruction that allows Konate to come across and clear the ball. That should have been a free-kick and a yellow card.
47 min “Surely the only answer to the question of Klopp’s next club is Atletico Madrid?” says Brad Mcmillan. “I’d love to see a manager swap in fact, Simeone would fit like a glove at Anfield.”
What kind of gloves do you wear?
46 min Peep peep!
Brighton have made a half-time change Joel Veltman is on for Adam Webster at centre-back.
“Wakey wakey,” says Jeff Sax. “Guys, Klopp had his golden seven years at Liverpool... They will not improve until he leaves.”
You misspelt ‘until Darwin Nunez settles and scores 50 goals next season, as he inevitably will’.
“Joe Pearson on 36 minutes is a lot kinder to the FSG-out bunch than I am,” says Espen Bommen. “They are fortunately few and far between but they are everything that’s wrong with modern football fans, crying because we didn’t buy the latest £100m big thing.
“FSG aren’t perfect but they have invested in the infrastructure and made us both competitive and financially self sufficient, which is very important, and are as morally sound as you can want from a hedge fund. When you look at the alternatives it makes me shudder and loads of reds will have to do some serious mental gymnastics if it happens.”
BUT THINK OF ALL THE MIDFIELDERS.
Half time: Brighton 1-1 Liverpool
That was really good fun. Both teams played some bright, breezy football, with the left-sided attackers Kaoru Mitoma and Harvey Elliott to the fore. Elliott gave Liverpool the lead after a ruthless counter-attack; Lewis Dunk diverted an errant shot past Alisson to equalise for Brighton.
45 min Here’s the Brighton equaliser.
44 min Elliott fell into the rump of Steele after that Lamptey tackle, so there’s a break in play while he has a concussion check. He’s been such a threat today with those runs infield from the left.
43 min: Great chance for Elliott! Gakpo drops deep, beats Mac Allister through sleight of hip and eases a classy through pass to Elliott. His first touch is perfect, but the second is slightly too heavy and that allows Lamptey to come across and make a desperate last-ditch tackle.
43 min “I’ll admit that I have a hard time getting exercised over which set of billionaires own Liverpool, but I am fascinated by what Klopp does next,” says Kári Tulinius. “As much as I’d like to see him stick around for decades like a modern Ferguson or Wenger, it would be thrilling to see him start over at another club.”
Let’s say he leaves Liverpool at the end of next season. What are his options, realistically? I can’t think of any club jobs that fit his personality. I’m not sure how comfortable he would feel working for one of the netspend mafia.
41 min Dunk scored an own goal, one of three by Brighton players, when they lost 6-1 at Anfield in the FA Cup 11 years ago.
A left-wing corner was cleared towards Lamptey, 25 yards from goal. He ran impatiently towards the ball and cut across a shot that was going wide until it hit Dunk and wrongfooted Alisson.
GOAL! Brighton 1-1 Liverpool (Dunk 39)
A stroke of luck for Brighton!
38 min Or, in the case of the goal, from the passing of Salah and the movement of Elliott.
37 min Liverpool look really dangerous on the break, particularly through the passing of Elliott and the movement of Salah.
36 min “C’mon people!” pleads Joe Pearson. “You do realise that two years after FSG bought the Red Sox, the team broke an 86-year drought to win the World Series and have been consistently competitive since. Yes, they are a little more thoughtful with their money than say Todd Boehly. But then, who isn’t? Just chill a bit.”
34 min Mitoma is looking increasingly dangerous for Brighton, though the in-form March has been relatively quiet on the other side.
32 min There was a VAR check for handball against Keita in the build-up, but as he didn’t score the goal himself it can only be disallowed if it was a deliberate handball. It wasn’t.
Dunk got in front of Salah to win the ball near the halfway line, but his momentum meant he was out of the game when Keita quickly lobbed the ball into space down the right. Salah made 30 or 40 yards and then weighted his pass perfectly behind Webster for the onrushing Elliott. He dragged a first-time shot that hit the outstretched right hand of Steele and dribbled slowly into the far corner.
GOAL! Brighton 0-1 Liverpool (Elliott 30)
Harvey Elliott does it again in the FA Cup!
30 min Estpuinan feeds the ball into Ferguson and keeps running. Ferguson lays it off first time to Mitoma, who angles a beautiful first-time pass into the path of Estupinan. His touch takes him away from Gomez but also runs the ball out of play.
29 min March receives the ball on the edge of the area, uses the overlapping Lamptey by not using him and curls a shot that is well blocked by Gomez.
28 min The hitherto anonymous Gakpo charges 50 yards and plays the ball towards Salah in the area. It comes off the sliding Lamptey, and Steele is quickly off his line to beat Salah to the loose ball.
Salah would have been offside anyway, or at least should have been.
27 min All the vital statistics are roughly level, including the most important of all. The first goal feels a bit more important than usual, especially given Liverpool’s fragile confidence.
25 min: Salah misses a great chance! Liverpool should be ahead. Elliott, in the centre circle, threads a superb early pass behind Webster and into the path of Salah, making a textbook angled run. Salah scurries into the area, draws Steele… and drags his shot a few yards wide of the far post.
21 min Gorgeous play from Brighton. Mitoma floats menacingly infield from the left and feeds the ball into to Ferguson on the edge of the area. He returns it with a neat flick behind his standing leg, and Mitoma dummies Gomez before hitting a left-foot shot that has the pace taken off it by Konate and dribbles through to Alisson.
20 min “I’m with Ian Copestake on this ... people forget how bad it was under Hicks & Gillet,” says David Horn. “And if the words ‘Hodgson & Konchesky’ don’t strike fear into the hearts of Liverpool fans the world over, it’s because those hearts have already been sold to the Devil’s PIF.
“FSG brought stability, mostly sensible decision making (an unfortunate Dunkin Donuts alliance, and Super League aside), a progressive manager in Rodgers and undeniable success with Klopp. They made us genuinely one of the top three teams in the world playing arguably more thrilling football than any other.
“And we’re going to throw that away because we haven’t bought a midfielder? Wouldn’t it be more sensible just to buy a new midfielder?”
18 min Mac Allister makes a back for Keita, who lands very painfully. He’s okay to continue.
17 min “People have a go at the Mephistopheles Group,” says Niall Mullen, “but you should see the see the new youth academy and, this weekend, they have pledged £1000 to the local food bank for every goal scored by the team.”
17 min March fizzes over from 25 yards. The referee played an advantage earlier in the move and then went back to book Bajcetic for a foul I didn’t see as I was frantically typing the previous entry.
15 min: Off the line by Alexander-Arnold! Gross finds March in space on the right, with Robertson caught up the pitch. Gomez shows March onto his weaker right foot, so he accepts the invitation and fizzes a low ball across the six-yard box. It misses everyone at the near post and reaches Ferguson at the far, six yards from goal. He gets the ball out of his feet and slides a low shot past Alisson that is kicked off the line by Alexander-Arnold.
13 min Liverpool look pretty sharp, with and without the ball, and the teenager Stefan Bajcetic again looks comfortable in his company.
9 min Mitoma beats Alexander-Arnold down the left and lifts a cross towards the near post, where Konate gets in front of Ferguson to clear. It’s been a really entertaining start to the game.
9 min “The FSG-out groupthink is so depressing,” says Ian Copestake. “We got lucky ridding ourselves of truly awful owners and now look gift horses in the mouth. Anfield developed, millions spent on strikers, defenders but yes no midfielder. So the owners have to go?”
Yeah but think how many £200m midfielders you’ll be able to buy if you’re taken over by the Mephistopheles Group.
8 min A tame long-range shot from Elliott is easily saved by Steele. Was going wide anyway.
7 min Alexander-Arnold spins a delicious outside-of-the-boot pass to release Salah, who wins a corner off Estupinan.
4 min: Off the line by Dunk! Liverpool almost score with their first attack. Salah, on the right side of the area, threaded a left-footed shot that was blocked by Webster in front of the diving Steele. It came back to Salah, who shoved it towards goal with his right foot, and Dunk stretched to make a superb clearance off the line.
3 min March’s inswinger is claimed confidently by the backpedalling Alisson.
3 min Lamptey wins an early corner down the right. Brighton have made a fast start, trying to replicate the intensity that overwhlemed Liverpool in the league.
2 min Kaoru Mitoma has his first run at Alexander-Arnold, who defends well and concedes a throw-in.
1 min Peep peep! Naby Keita gets this mouthwatering game under way.
“Many of my Liverpool-supporting brethren on the WhatsApps (zero sistren obviously) are #FSGOUT primarily for a failure to invest in players like, say, Moises Caicedo,” says Niall Mullen. “But really, so far at least, it’s been money going to the wrong part of the team. Unless Klopp knew all along that Bajcetic would be the new Busquets then it’s the failure to refresh the creaking midfield rather than a failure to splash the cash that has really hurt the team.”
In his defence, he did try to sign Aurelien Tchouameni and he would clearly sacrifice his favourite baseball cap to buy Jude Bellingham. I suppose the debate is at what point you should compromise and take somebody from the B-list.
Maybe Klopp thought – and it wouldn’t have been unreasonable given their age, even if the signs have been there with Henderson – that he could get one more season out of the old midfield while integrating the younger players. But yes, the alarm bells were ringing when they being outrun by allcomers at the start of the season.
Roberto De Zerbi on Moises Caicedo (and other matters)
“The fear your preamble instilled in me,” says Ian Copestake, “could equally have been evoked in two words: Steve Foster.”
And here he is, using his headband to great effect in the FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday 40 years ago.
The pre-match thoughts of Harvey Elliott
Brighton’s famous win at Anfield in 1983 wasn’t the only time they took care of England’s best team in the FA Cup.
Roberto De Zerbi had to choose between Evan Ferguson and Danny Welbeck up front. In fact he’s picked both, which might mean a slight change of system.
In all Brighton have made four changes from the 2-2 draw at Leicester last weekend. Jason Steele, Tariq Lamptey, Adam Webster and Ferguson replace Robert Sanchez, Jan Paul van Hecke, Adam Lallana and Moises Caicedo, who is Absent With Official Leave.
Jurgen Klopp has made one change from the bloodless 0-0 draw with Chelsea eight days ago. Trent Alexander-Arnold replaces James Milner at right-back.
Brighton (possible 4-2-4) Steele; Lamptey, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan; Gross, Mac Allister; March, Welbeck, Ferguson, Mitoma.
Substitutes: Sanchez, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Gilmour, Van Hecke, Veltman, Moran, Hinshelwood.
Liverpool (possible 4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Gomez, Robertson; Keita, Bajcetic, Thiago; Salah, Gakpo, Elliott.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Tsimikas, Nunez, Matip.
There are so many reasons to love Brighton: the Bella Union record shop, a general vibe of tolerance and inclusivity, the steak bulgogi. And then there’s the football club. Pound for pound, Brighton might be the best and most exciting team in England right now.
The side that walloped Liverpool a fortnight ago cost just £31m, which is about half of what they’ve been offered for Moises Caicedo alone, and since Christmas they have scored 19 goals in six games. It would be an insult to Graham Potter to say that Brighton have gone to the next level under Roberto De Zerbi – but they have gone to a different, more invigorating one.
Last season Potter took Brighton to their highest-ever top-flight finish of ninth. Brighton could yet top that – they are currently sixth – but what De Zerbi would really love to do is win their first major trophy. They have only reached one FA Cup final, a story we all know well – forty years later, Smith still must score.
On the way to the final in 1982-83, Brighton took out the champions Liverpool in the fifth round, when Jimmy Case scored a spectacular winner against his old club and Phil Neal missed a penalty before retreating instantly to his station like an obedient Labrador.
Liverpool will return to the Amex Stadium with maybe one part trepidation, three parts determination. Jurgen Klopp called their performance the worst of any team throughout his managerial career. They don’t necessarily have a score to settle, but they certainly have a wrong to right.
Kick off 1.30pm