Liverpool defeated a resilient , well-organized , and hard-fighting Crystal Palace by two-goals-to-nothing in a fiercely contested Monday Premier League fixture played at Selhurst Park.
This was a match in which the Reds found it very hard to create many goal-scoring chances owing to the compact tactical formation employed by Roy Hodgson’s side.
Liverpool dominated the entire first half of the match but found it very difficult to make inroads into Crystal Palace’s final third because their opponent’s players defended in numbers.
During the early exchanges , Wayne Hennessey made a superb save to prevent James Milner’s dangerous cross from finding any Liverpool’s players inside his eighteen yard box .
Salah has a chance to score in the twenty second minute of the match when he successfully latched onto a pass deep inside Palace’s half of the pitch but his looping shot over Hennessey’s head flew over the crossbar.
In one of the few instances Palace attacked the visiting team in the opening half of the match , Andros Townsend pounced on a faulty pass from Naby Keita and unleashed a curling shot that ricocheted off the crossbar.
Keita was denied a chance of scoring in the twenty sixth minute of the game when goalkeeper Hennessey punched out of danger the Guinean’s shot from the six yard box.
In the heat of Liverpool offensive play , the Eagles’ right full-back Aaron-Wan Bissaka made two excellent sliding tackles to prevent Sadio Mane from causing havoc in his eighteen yard box.
Andrew Robertson came close to scoring as Liverpool were desperately pressing to get an opening goal , the left full-back received a Mohammed Salah’s pass in an unmarked position inside Palace’s eighteen yard but his final shot flew wide away from the goalpost.
Liverpool scored through a James Milner’s penalty kick in the last minute of normal time. Salah received a pass inside the opponent’s eighteen yard box , and he tried to wriggle away from Mamadou Sakho , but the central-half clipped his legs, sending the dashing winger to the floor, and referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty kick to Liverpool.
The Eagles somewhat abandoned their defensive style in the second period of the match , as they took their attacking play to Liverpool’s half of the pitch. Even after Wan Bissaka was sent off for fouling Salah , the home team poured forward searching for an equalizer.
A Liverpool counter-attack was initiated when Andrew Robertson’s pass allowed Salah to raced with the ball into Palace’s eighteen yard but goalkeeper Hennessy deflected Salah’s shot towards the byline , the Egyptian winger still managed to keep the ball in play before laying a pass to Keita in the opponent’s eighteen yard box , but the Guinean’s shot went wide from the goal post.
Goalkeeper Alisson justified the huge amount Liverpool paid for signing him in the few but very important saves he made in the course of the match . The Brazilian deflected out of play a Luca Milivojevic’s goal-bound free-kick during a period in the second half when the home team enjoyed a short spell of attacking football in Liverpool’s half of the pitch .
Hennessey made wonderful saves to deny the duo of Salah and keita from having their names on the scorer’s sheet. The Eagles’ goalkeeper’s agility and good anticipation played a great part in the saves that eventually made the final scoreline very honourable.
In the second minute of the added time Palace won a corner-kick , and Virgil Van Dijk headed out the ball from the resultant kick to Salah who set up Mane to attack the opponent’s vacated half of the pitch , the Senegalese winger raced with the ball from his own half of the pitch until he entered Palace’s eighteen yard box , and he withstood Van Holt’s late tackle before beating and on-rushing Hennessy and slicing the ball into the empty net.
Liverpool deserve to be praised for their patience while in search of goals and the game management they displayed against a very tough Crystal Palace side ; in the same breath the Eagles resilience and refusal to make recourse to a defensive formation when they were a player a down is equally commendable.
With this victory the Reds are now second to Manchester City on the league table.The Citizens are on top of the table due to their superior goal differential.