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Coutinho, Firmino and Salah scare Liverpool's Premier League rivals with a scintillating showing

20:22 GMT+3 02/12/2017
Firmino Coutinho
The Reds fielded a makeshift defence at the Amex, but the cannonry at Jurgen Klopp's disposal rendered all else obsolete

There were Brighton arms in the air, hands on heads, with knees despairingly dropping to the turf. No expert lip readers were needed to decode the words, of the vulgar variety, collectively bawling out.

It was just too much: the speed, the decision-making, the decisiveness.

Roberto Firmino had provided the touches and the finishes, while Philippe Coutinho orchestrated matters and embarrassed markers in equal measure before adding the golden brush strokes at the death.

Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, supplied a sublime reminder that he’s not all about scoring goals - he is more than capable of torturing defenders en route to creating them as well. The Premier League’s top marksman didn’t add to his personal tally, but his contribution at the Amex cannot be overstated.

This was highlighted as a game for Jurgen Klopp’s men to endure, especially given their injury issues in defence, and while the hosts tried to make it as such, the cannonry at the German’s disposal rendered all else obsolete.

Sadio Mane wasn’t needed on the south coast, and Liverpool still smashed in five against a team that have been notoriously tough to breach.

Brighton's obstructive approach had frustrated the visitors, set up with a back three of Gini Wijnaldum, Dejan Lovren and Emre Can due to enforced absences, for the opening half-hour.

But Chris Hughton’s side were then floored in 79 seconds. The German midfielder, stationed in the rearguard due to an adductor injury to Joel Matip with Joe Gomez missing through illness and Ragnar Klavan only fit enough for the bench, did brilliantly for the first.

With Coutinho standing over a corner, Can timed an unchecked run to perfection to power in a header.

Brighton had been largely comfortable in their deep-defensive routine until then, bar Firmino nodding over early on, but were rapidly and ruthlessly dismantled.

They pushed forward, only to cede possession with Can directing a header towards Lovren, who played a long ball forward. Firmino touched it to Salah, who commanded the attention of five markers allowing Coutinho and his Brazilian compatriot space on either side of him.

The former delivered a fine ball across goal, with Firmino applying the finish it deserved.

After the break, Liverpool remained in control, but Simon Mignolet was forced into rare action to thwart Glenn Murray.

Again, Klopp’s side so swiftly and effortlessly turned defence into attack. Again, Firmino sparked it with Coutinho and Salah combining. Having not learnt from their earlier error, three Brighton defenders gravitated towards the Egyptian, who poked on brilliantly for the No.9 to convert.

Three minutes later, the Seagulls were gifted a reprieve by referee Graham Scott, who awarded an incredibly soft penalty decision.

Murray slotted his spot-kick and Brighton were galvanised afterwards, but the Merseysiders saw out any threats - Trent Alexander-Arnold contributing a vital block to deny Jose Izquierdo - and served up more misery.

Coutinho, wondrous to watch, got a free-kick on 87 minutes. He waited for the wall to jump and casually rolled it under to them in keeping with his classy performance. Shortly after, the 25-year-old saw an effort deflect in off Lewis Dunk to cap off a stunning individual and collective performance from Liverpool.

They have now scored three or more in eight of their last 10 fixtures in all competitions, and with Klopp's options in attack, the festive season is sure to feel anything but for the opposition.