Pascal Gross’ controversial injury-time penalty rescued a deserved draw for Brighton, although Liverpool still went top of the Premier League.
It was Brighton’s second penalty of the game after Neal Maupay fired a first-half spot-kick wide at the Amex Stadium.
The Reds thought they had taken the lead when Mohamed Salah latched onto a Roberto Firmino ball before firing home, but it was disallowed for offside by the video assistant referee.
Diogo Jota broke the deadlock, with his ninth goal since joining the Reds, as he received Salah’s pass before going past two defenders and firing into the bottom corner.
Substitute Sadio Mane believed he had sealed the game with a late header for Liverpool but that was also ruled out by the VAR for offside.
And they were made to pay when Andy Robertson kicked Danny Welbeck’s boot – with Stuart Attwell awarding the penalty after viewing the screen – and Gross slamming the equaliser down the centre.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was furious with the officials as they walked off the pitch and captain Jordan Henderson said he would like to see VAR scrapped.
The visitors lost James Milner to a hamstring injury, while Brighton had to replace both Maupay and Adam Lallana, who had only been on the pitch for eight minutes.
Klopp criticised broadcasters again afterwards for placing this game on a Saturday lunchtime after a Champions League game on Wednesday.
The defending champions go one point above Tottenham, who visit Chelsea on Sunday. Brighton remain 16th, five points ahead of 17th-placed Burnley.
Liverpool still go top of the table, but by one point and not three. The result, and not the performance, was the most important thing in this manic schedule – and they were moments away from getting the result they wanted.
Klopp warned last week the fixture scheduling means they may not finish the season with 11 players.
And Milner, who started the game in midfield and moved to right-back, suffered a muscle injury in the second half to add to their defensive injury concerns.
They made six changes from their 2-0 defeat by Atalanta on Wednesday, a game which had involved several fringe players, for this one.
The Reds did not create many chances, with six shots – only two on target – but Jota’s goal did look like it was going to be enough until the late drama.
Robertson tried to clear the ball but instead caught Welbeck’s foot. There was definitely contact, although it would not have been given in a pre-VAR world.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 28, 2020
Brighton get point they deserve
Brighton are often made to pay for missed chances. Only Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester City have had more shots than the Seagulls’ 123 this season.
But despite that they sit just two places outside the relegation zone.
Nobody could really argue they fully merited a point against the champions.
The lively Aaron Connolly – who appeared furious at being replaced in the second half – ran onto Maupay’s long ball before curling just wide. The Irishman was then fouled by Neco Williams for the penalty which Maupay missed.
Maupay’s day got worse when he suffered a hamstring injury. He is the first player to start a Premier League game, miss a penalty and be replaced before half-time since Dennis Bergkamp against Derby in April 1998.
Brighton eventually earned a dramatic point through Gross’ penalty to take them onto 10 points.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 28, 2020
Brighton end Reds’ nine-game winning run – match stats
Liverpool have gone unbeaten in each of their past 12 matches against Brighton (W10 D2), with this draw ending a nine-match winning run against the Seagulls.
Brighton have never won a top-flight home game against Liverpool (D4 L4), failing to keep a clean sheet.
Brighton are without a win in their past nine home games in the Premier League (D4 L5) – their longest winless run in the competition on home soil.
Diogo Jota has scored nine goals in his 14 appearances for Liverpool, scoring eight goals in his past eight.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in nine goals in his seven Premier League games against Brighton (five goals, four assists). Against no team has he registered more goal involvements in the competition (level with Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham).
Liverpool are back in Champions League action on Tuesday, at home to Ajax (20:00 GMT), before hosting Wolves on Sunday, 6 December in the league (19:15).
Brighton have nine days off. Their next match is at home to Southampton on Monday, 7 December (20:00) in the league.