Liverpool claimed the three maximum points at stake after beating Crystal Palace by two goals-to-one in an action-packed Premier League match played at Selhurst Pack. It was a fiercely contested match that was marked with many contentious calls by the referee.
The first goal of the match was scored by the Eagles’ captain Luca Milivojevic from the penalty spot. In the build-up to the penalty incident, Wilfred Zaha raced with the ball into the opponent’s final third, but was brought down by an onrushing Loris Karius inside the penalty box. The Red’s goalkeeper had, without malicious intent, tried to prevent the dashing Palace’s winger from dinking the ball over him into the net. Referee Neil Swarbrick adjudged Karius’ action as an infringement and handed the Germany international a yellow card for the foul on Zaha.
Liverpool had majority of the ball possession in the first half of the match, but the Eagles were dangerous the few times they made inroads into the visitors’ half of the pitch. Zaha was a constant threat from the left flank where he troubled Liverpool’s back line with his pace and dribbling skills. And it took a well-time block from Karius to prevent him from scoring in the eighth minute of the game.
Sadio Mane, who was controversially booked for simulation in the opponent’s penalty box, had his twenty seventh goal disallowed after it was spotted that he headed the ball into the net from an off-side position inside Palace’s six yard box. The Senegalese winger was very effective in the opponent’s final third where his dashing runs and link-up play with his team mates was a potent threat Palace’s players had to deal with time after time while he was on the pitch.
In spite of Liverpool having the majority of the ball possession, the home team was able to curtail the threat of Liverpool’s attacking trio of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah in the opening half of the match which ended with Palace leading by a lone goal.
Liverpool came into the second half of the match with a clear determination to score an early goal ; they swarmed into opponent’s half and unleashed an unrelenting waves of attacking football. Their efforts soon paid off when Mane, lurking in Palace’s six yard box, skillfully smashed into the net a James Milner’s low cross from the left flank.
The home team reacted very well after the equalizer. Former Liverpool striker, Christian Benteke , had two glaring opportunities to score within the space of two minutes ; but on each occasion he shot wide from the goal-post.
Mane was lucky to escape from getting a second yellow card, which would have led to his dismissal from the game. He was fouled by a Palace’s player at the edge of his penalty box, but he took laws into his hand by clutching the ball with his hands – thus stopping the flow of the game. Referee Swarbrick awarded a free kick against Liverpool over Mane’s ball handling but refused to issue a yellow card, perhaps knowing within himself that Mane had actually being fouled.
Mention must be made of Liverpool’s full backs – Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander- Arnold. Both were rich sources of creative play from the flanks.
A bright spot in the Eagles’s team was the performance of their right wing –back , Aaron-wan Bissaka. The English-born Congolese showed quick feet and an attacker’s guile when he attacked the Red’s half of the pitch from the right flank
Jurgen klopp introduced the duo Alexandre Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana to replace the pair of Georgino Wijnaldum and Mane. The hand ball incident showed Mane had so much adrenaline in his system, causing him to over-react and with just one more yellow card away from dismissal, klopp had to pull him out of the match.
Adam Lallana came out of the match injured few minutes after his introduction. Lallana , it must be remembered , has hardly featured for Liverpool this season due a long injury lay-off
Mohammed Salah scored the winning goal for the Reds in the eighty fourth minute of the game. It was the Egyptian’s twenty ninth league goal and thirty seventh goal in all competitions this term.
The build-up to Liverpool’s winning goal was majorly initiated by Alexandre Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose cross from the right flank was superbly controlled by Robertson inside the Eagle’s penalty box, the full back then sent a cross into the opponent’s goal mouth where it located Salah whose first touch of the ball with his left foot took Mamadou Sakho out of his way thus enabling him to shoot the ball with the right foot into the net.
This victory served as a good preparation for Liverpool who are scheduled to play Manchester City at Anfield on Wednesday in the first leg of this season’s quarter final match of the UEFA Champions League.