Van Dijk scores twice, Liverpool beats Brighton 2-1 in EPL
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Virgil van Dijk powered in two first-half headers to lead Liverpool to a 2-1 win over Brighton and an 11-point lead in the English Premier League on Saturday.
It was a nervy end to the match for Liverpool, however, after goalkeeper Alisson Becker was sent off for handling the ball outside the area in the 76th. His replacement, Adrian, conceded a goal from that free kick and endured a few difficult moments before the final whistle was blown at Anfield.
Still, Liverpool managed to capitalize on its biggest title rival, defending champion Manchester City, dropping more points in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle earlier.
Leicester can restore the gap to Liverpool to eight points by beating Everton on Sunday.
Two days before he discovers if he wins the Ballon d’Or as the world’s best player for 2019, Van Dijk was the match winner for Liverpool as he showed how brilliant he can be at both ends of the field.
The Netherlands defender rose highest to meet a free kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold with a header that soared over Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan and into the center of the goal.
Six minutes later, the pair combined again as Alexander-Arnold curled in a corner and Van Dijk ran in toward to the near post, ahead of marker Lewis Dunk, and glanced home another header.
No Premier League defender has scored more than Van Dijk’s seven since the start of last season, while Alexander-Arnold has 17 assists over that period.
Ryan saved well from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino before the game was turned on its head by the red card to Alisson, who used his right hand to stop an attempted lob by Leandro Trossard just outside the area.
Adrian, the backup goalkeeper, came on as Liverpool’s third substitute and while he was lining up the wall for the resulting free kick, Dunk used some quick thinking to roll in a shot precisely into the corner.
Adrian made a couple of saves in the final minutes and nearly fumbled a shot into his own net as nerves spread through the stadium.