Liverpool hammered 3-1 by Brentford

Brentford's Yoane Wissa, right, scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Brentford and Liverpool at the Gtech Community Stadium in London, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
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LONDON (AP) — Liverpool lost more ground in the race for a top-four English Premier League finish when it lost to Brentford 3-1 on Monday.

Sloppy defending cost Liverpool twice in the first half, prompting angry boss Jurgen Klopp to substitute key defender Virgil van Dijk at halftime.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled one back but Bryan Mbeumo killed off Liverpool as Brentford beat the visitors for the first time since 1938 in all competitions.

Brentford rose from 10th to seventh in the standings. It was two points behind Liverpool.

Ibrahima Konate’s own goal gave the Bees the lead and Yoane Wissa’s header just before halftime put them in control.

Wissa, the replacement for Ivan Toney, the Bees’ 13-goal top scorer, had two goals ruled out for offside before he scored in a breakneck first half.

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez added to his growing catalogue of wasted opportunities in front of goal. He was slipped in behind by Mohamed Salah and took the ball around Bees goalkeeper David Raya and rolled it towards goal, only for Ben Mee to arrive in the nick of time to slide in and block.

At the other end, Wissa sent Mbeumo clean through on goal but the latter’s shot was well saved by Alisson. However, from the corner, Brentford took the lead when the ball ricocheted off the knee of France World Cup finalist Konate and squirmed past Alisson.

Mbeumo’s corners continued to cause the visitors problems and Wissa put two of them into the net only for both goals to be chalked off.

However, the winger made it third time lucky four minutes before halftime when he buried a superb header from Mathias Jensen’s cross. Alisson got a hand to the ball and scooped it out but referee Stuart Attwell’s watch buzzed to confirm Wissa finally had his goal.

Klopp had seen enough of the shambles at the back and replaced Van Dijk with Joel Matip as one of three halftime changes.

The luckless Nunez managed to find the net shortly after the restart after breaking through one on one with Raya, only for VAR to pull him up for offside.

Moments later, Liverpool made one count, Oxlade-Chamberlain glancing in a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s tempting cross.

They pressed for an equalizer but Raya did well to keep out a Fabinho shot and Konate headed wide.

Brentford ended their hopes six minutes from time after Mbeumo brushed off a feeble challenge by Konate and tucked away the third.