The key incident of the game occurred in the 49th minute as Salah ran into the box, pivoted sharply and turned past Pascal Gross. As Salah bore down on goal again, the Brighton midfielder appeared to grab hold of his shoulder and then clip the back of his foot when he attempted to shoot.
While it looked a clear foul in real time, rival fans accused the Liverpool forward of simulation at the Amex Stadium just a few weeks after he was criticised for going down easily for a crucial penalty against Newcastle on Boxing Day.
How it happened
‘Dives more than Neymar'
“I think he's getting into the habit of making the most of challenges,” said BeIn Sports anchor and erstwhile Sky Sports host Richard Keys. “There was a tug on his shirt, in fairness, but enough to take him down in the manner that he collapsed? I don't know.”
"He's getting a habit of making the most of any challenges."
Is Mo Salah earning a reputation for going down easily in the box?#beINPL #BHALIV HD11 pic.twitter.com/9B3ppBRQfC
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) January 12, 2019
“It's a dive!” wrote one fan on Twitter. “He decides to miskick after he was tugged. He wasn't being tugged back when he went backwards. Some delay he has.”
Read more: ‘Mohamed Salah is getting into a habit': Richard Keys questions Liverpool penalty vs Brighton
“The biggest cheat in the game,” said another. “Needs a lengthy ban otherwise he will keep doing it.”
“Mo Salah diving all the time,” wrote fan Tom Talbot on Twitter. “Honestly, dives more than Neymar.”
“If this was Lovren making the tackle they wouldn’t call a penalty,” wrote another. “There is smallest amount of contact.”
‘The most stonewall penalty'
Journalists at the game and pundits watching on TV were less convinced by claims of a dive.
“Brighton's fans were angered by referee Kevin Friend's display, though it did appear Gross placed his hands on Salah before catching the Liverpool player's leg in the key moment,” wrote the BBC's Luke Reddy.
“There can be no question, whether there is VAR or not,” said Matt Le Tissier on Sky Sports. “This was probably the most stonewall penalty that decided the game.”
Asked whether he had any complaints about the penalty decision, Brighton manager Chris Hughton said “no” but did feel the referee favoured Liverpool overall. “I just thought on the balance of decisions, no malice towards the referee who is trying to do the best job he can, I thought it favoured Liverpool on the balance of decisions in the game.”
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