Aaron Connolly says it can only help him as a player to go up against defenders such as Virgil van Dijk.

The much-acclaimed Dutch centre-back is regarded as one of the leading defenders in world football and scored both Liverpool’s goals in their 2-1 win at Anfield.

Albion striker Connolly, who battled hard against Van Dijk, hopes this experience will help him become a better player in the long run.

He said: “It is tough but there was one point where I thought ‘I’m in’’.

“Davy (Propper) played me in and Van Dijk came out of nowhere to toe-poke the ball back to the keeper.

“Sometimes you just have to appreciate one of, if not the best, defenders in the world at the minute. To play against someone like him at 19 can only help.

“He is a brilliant player so it was tough, but I thought I did OK and gave him a good game.”

Albion conceded two goals in the space of six minutes from set-pieces, both of which were headed in by 28-year-old Van Dijk.

Connolly said: “To concede two goals from set-pieces is disappointing, but you can’t really give someone like Van Dijk space.

“You can’t give him space, especially when he is that big, and we need to learn from that.”

Albion had their own chances to score more than one goal with Lewis Dunk going agonisingly close on a couple of occasions.

The Seagulls played the last 15 or so minutes with an extra man after Alisson got sent off for handling the ball outside his area and Connolly felt Albion should have got something from the game.

He said: “The red card didn’t really change anything as we were on top anyway. Even with the red it just emphasised how well we were playing that it just stayed the same even when they had ten men.

“We had them penned in for about 20 to 30 minutes, it was just disappointing as we felt like we could have got something from the game.”

One player who did get himself on the scoresheet again was Dunk.

Albion’s skipper has now scored two goals in his last two games.

Dunk’s goal came from the resulting free-kick after Alisson was dismissed as he passed the ball into the bottom left corner to catch the Reds off guard.

And Connolly was as surprised as anyone.

He said: “I wasn’t expecting it to be fair and I didn’t really see what happened, I’ve just saw Dunky run away celebrating.

“It is quick thinking from him to slot it in the bottom corner.”

Albion put in one of their best performances against a top six side so far this season and Connolly said they executed head coach Graham Potter’s game-plan well.

He said: “We have all looked at our games against the big teams and we have just realised that if we are going to be aggressive it can’t be half and half.

“We did that well and the gaffer’s game-plan obviously worked. If we could cancel out that first 15 minutes, we could have come away with a point if not three.”

Connolly had his first involvement with the team since the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United prior to the international break.

He said: “I was disappointed I didn’t get to go away with Ireland and then missed the Leicester game (through injury).

“To be out there again straight after the injury is good.

“It felt great to be out there and, hopefully, I can stay injury free for quite a while.”