Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 defeat against Brentford when a series of defensive errors damaged their bid to finish in the top four in the Premier League on Monday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side endured a nightmare start to 2023 and they alone were to blame for the west London horror show.
Ibrahima Konate’s own goal in the first half set the tone for an evening marked by errors in the Liverpool defense.
Yoane Wissa doubled Brentford’s lead and although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled one back, Bryan Mbeumo wrapped up Brentford’s first win against Liverpool since 1938.
In his first appearance since playing in France’s World Cup final loss against Argentina in December, Konate took much of the blame for Liverpool’s woeful defensive performance.
But the centre-back was not the only one who drew criticism for a Liverpool performance that dropped him to sixth place, four points behind fourth-place Manchester United, who play their pending game against Bournemouth on Tuesday.
Although seventh-placed Brentford are on a six-game unbeaten run in the league, including an impressive win against champions Manchester City just before the World Cup, it was surprising to see Liverpool so easily ripped apart.
Darwin Nunez, signed from Benfica for £64 million ($77 million) last year, was another poster boy for Liverpool’s woes.
The 23-year-old had 13 shots without scoring in his previous two league games and was out of luck again in the early stages at Brentford Community Stadium.
Mohamed Salah’s superb pass upset the Brentford defense and Nunez looked sure to end his barren streak when he rounded David Raya.
But Ben Mee ran back to clear his shot from the line as Nunez held his head in disbelief.
Mbeumo came close with a searing shot that Alisson Becker deflected for a corner.
It was only a temporary respite for Liverpool, as Thomas Frank’s side took the lead on the resulting set piece on 19 minutes.
Mee tried to shoot, but it was Konate who put the finishing touches as the ball bounced off her knee and twisted past Alisson on the wrong foot.
Liverpool were lucky to avoid further set-piece misery when Wissa struck from close range after the Reds tried to clear a corner, but an offside signal barred Brentford’s way.
Klopp’s side heeded the warning and Wissa went unmarked to drill from another dangerous corner before an offside flag against Mee once again saved Liverpool’s blushes.
Disorganized at the back, Liverpool were unable to deal with Brentford’s aerial threat and Wissa finally got the score in the 42nd minute.
Mathias Jensen’s cross selected Wissa and the Congo striker stepped past Trent Alexander-Arnold for a header that crossed the line before Alisson could finish.
Klopp was furious on the touchline as he raged at his shocked players.
The German responded by sending Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson and Naby Keita on at half-time, with Virgil van Dijk coming on after suffering a leg injury.
Klopp’s substitutions briefly fired up Liverpool and Núñez had a shot disallowed for offside before reducing the deficit in the 50th minute.
After being racked by crosses in the first half, Liverpool went airborne when Oxlade-Chamberlain headed in Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
Instead of propelling Liverpool to a grandstand end, that goal was as good as it got for the Reds, who lost their way as the half wore on.
Fittingly, Brentford’s coup de grace was a Liverpool self-inflicted injury when Konate fell failing to handle a long ball to Mbeumo, who ran past Alisson.
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