Liverpool – Salah (46’, 75’), Firmino (53’), Mane (90+3’)
Crystal Palace – Townsend (34’), Tomkins (65’), Meyer (90+5’)
Liverpool had to dig deep to beat Crystal Palace 4-3 in a nervy afternoon at Anfield.
Liverpool registered most of the possession in the first half but came unstuck following a blistering counter-attack from the visitors in the 34thminute.
Wilfried Zaha got the better of James Milner who was filling in at right back for the Reds. The Palace talisman pulled the ball back to Andros Townsend who slid the ball past Alisson and into the back of the net.
Liverpool got themselves back into the game just a minute into the second half through Mohamed Salah. Van Dijk’s long-range effort was deflected and Speroni was caught in no man’s land, allowing the Egyptian international to flick the ball past the Palace keeper and put them back on level terms.
The home side were quick to take the lead as Roberto Firmino netted just minutes later. Firmino, in space, was able to slot the ball into the bottom corner, with a deflection taking it away from Speroni, giving him no chance.
Liverpool stuttered once again in the 65thminute as Palace managed to find an equalizer through James Tomkins. With their first corner of the game, Tomkins was unmarked at the far post and was able to send his header straight into the bottom corner.
The Reds went on to take the lead once again 10 minutes later following another mistake from Speroni. Milner received the ball on the byline and did well to keep it in before chipping it into a dangerous area. The Palace keeper is unable to deal with it and tips it behind him, allowing Salah to score his easiest goal of the season and his 50thin the Premier League.
With just a minute of the 90 left to play, Liverpool received a huge set back when make-shift right back James Milner received his second yellow of the game and was sent down the tunnel, forcing the Reds to play through stoppage time with 10 men.
However, it appeared Liverpool had put the game to bed when Sadio Mane got their fourth of the game deep into added time. The Reds broke forward on the counter and Robertson was able to feed the ball to the Senegalese international who slotted home from a tight angle.
Just minutes later Palace showed their persistence and managed to peg another one back through Max Meyer to make it a very interesting end to the game.
Mane’s stoppage-time winner made the difference, however, as Palace were unable to find an equalizer in the dying seconds of the game. It turned out to be a hard-fought win for Klopp’s men and much more chaotic than they would’ve liked, but it’s results such as this that could make the difference at the end of the season.
Player and Manager Ratings:
Alisson - 6 (Would've been annoyed at conceding three and arguably could've reacted quicker for a couple of Palace's goals).
Milner – 5 (Managed to get an assist, but showed his limitations defensively. Zaha had the better of him for almost the entire game and put his teammates in a difficult situation by getting sent off for two clumsy challenges).
Matip – 6 (Was threatening in front of goal for Liverpool on set-pieces. Was calm and composed most of the time, but did struggle at times as Palace played on the counter).
Van Dijk – 7 (Assured as always, the strongest point of the defense as always. Was a threat going forward as well).
Robertson – 7 (Gave everything he had which is something we’ve come to expect from Andy. Provided the assist for Mane’s stoppage-time goal).
Henderson – 9 (A brilliant performance from the skipper, put in a real shift. Worked extremely hard both defensively and in an attacking sense. Stand-out performance).
Fabinho – 7 (Offered a lot of protection defensively, but did lose his way at times).
Mane – 7 (Extremely hard worker, was all over the pitch putting in a real shift. Did well for his goal).
Firmino – 7 (Ended up playing all over the pitch, in every position imaginable. Scored a deflected goal and had a good few chances).
Keita – 5 (Played out of position, in his defense. Really struggled to have an impact and disappeared. One bright moment with the assist for the opener).
Salah – 8 (Scored two goals and was always a threat. Went down too easily following a challenge from Sakho).
Shaqiri – 6 (Helped out defensively, wasn’t able to have an impact going forward).
Lallana – 6 (Important minutes in the legs as he may need to be utilized in the upcoming games following Milner’s one-game suspension and doubts over Wijnaldum’s fitness).
Camacho – 6 (Made his premier league debut and an important clearance in the dying seconds to ensure Liverpool took all three points).
Manager Rating: Klopp – 7 (Probably the most chaotic performance from his side this season. Will not be too impressed with the defensive side of things, but will be delighted with the three points. His side is able to win in different ways, which is a sign of champions).
Crystal Palace (4-3-2-1)
Speroni – 4 (Made a right mess of things and gifted Liverpool a couple of goals).
Wan-Bissaka – 7 (An impressive display from the youngster. Kept Naby Keita quiet).
Tomkins – 7 (Defended well and got himself on the scoresheet).
Sakho – 6 (Made some important blocks and was reasonably solid).
Van Aanholt – 7 (Most likely wasn’t expecting to come up against Sadio Mane, but dealt with him well).
Townsend – 7 (Got himself on the scoresheet and stepped up for a big game. Struggled at times with Robertson’s attacking threat).
Kouyate – 6 (Firmino’s goal was deflected off him but did well in keeping the Reds at bay).
Milivojevic– 7 (Barely put a foot wrong and made some important tackles).
McArthur – 6 (Was disciplined and put in a shift before being substituted).
Zaha – 8 (Standout performer for the visitors and caused a lot of problems. Had the better of Milner and drew the fouls to get him sent off).
Ayew – 6 (Worked hard but wasn’t able to influence the game).
Schlupp – 6 (Had the chance to get an equalizer at 3-2, but was unable to hit the target).
Wickham – 6 (Wasn’t able to impact the game).
Meyer – 7 (Was able to get a consolation goal late on and reduce the deficit).
Manager Rating: Roy Hodgson– 7 (Set his team up well and caused Liverpool more problems than most so far this season, especially at Anfield. Can be proud of his team and will hope they can take this level of performance into their next run of fixtures which are slightly more winnable.
Klopp and his team will welcome this 10-day break before they next face Leicester at Anfield on the 30th January. With Milner ruled out due to suspension, Klopp will be hoping Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren will be fit to make a return to the squad. As fixtures come a lot more sparsely for the Reds due to their cup exits, Klopp will be thankful for the extra time to prepare for what feels like yet another cup final for the Reds.
Crystal Palace is next in action in a week’s time when they host Tottenham in the FA cup 4thround. Along with having the home advantage, Roy Hodgson will be looking to make the most of Spurs’ injury crisis as their fixtures keep piling up and their squad becomes thinner and thinner.
By Hannah Pinnock