Brighton and Hove Albion starlet Aaron Connolly admits he was left blown away by ‘brilliant’ Virgil van Dijk after the centre-back’s match-winning heroics for Liverpool on Saturday, speaking to the Seagull’s official website.
So often unbeatable at one end, Van Dijk made the difference at the other too during a nervy 2-1 win against Graham Potter’s Brighton on Merseyside.
The reigning UEFA Mens’ Player of the Year scored twice in the opening 24 minutes, giving Liverpool a lead that they would never relinquish despite Alisson Becker’s late red card and a Lewis Dunk consolation.
Van Dijk was typically commanding at the back too despite being given a few headaches by 19-year-old livewire Connolly.
And, speaking after the game, the Republic of Ireland international has paid tribute to arguably the toughest opponent he has ever come up against at senior level.
“It was tough. There was one point where Davy [Propper] played me in, and then he came out of nowhere with his toe and toe-poked it back to his goalkeeper,” Connolly admitted.
“Sometimes you just have to appreciate that you’re playing against one of the, if not the, best defender in the world.
“To play against someone like that at my age can only help me. He’s a brilliant player, but I thought I did okay against him.”
Van Dijk is one of the favourites to lift the Ballon D’Or in Paris tonight and another sensational individual performance, plus a pair of goals which put Liverpool 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League, stand the Dutchman in good stead of another individual accolade.
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