Liverpool 4-3 Crystal Palace
Jurgen Klopp has taken Liverpool seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, but not before the Eagles gave them one heck of a fright!
The Reds are still unbeaten at Anfield, but they were pushed all the way in this seven-goal thriller. The hosts were at us odds of 1.20 to win the game, but it was much harder than they expected as Palace took the lead and continued fighting to the death. In the end, a Mo Salah brace was the difference between the two teams.
Highlights of the game
The hosts were on the front foot from the off, but the Eagles managed to withstand the early pressure. James Milner did well to put Joel Matip in but veteran keeper Julian Speroni was quick off his line to thwart the danger, then Firmino cut in from the right but his shot flew well over the crossbar.
Sadio Mane rose well to meet a corner but his header went straight into the Palace keeper’s hands. And the 39-year-old Speroni was on hand again to tip over a powerful header from Virgil van Dijk when the big Dutch defender met a Milner corner. And then, after standing firm against the red onslaught for half an hour, Palace silenced the Anfield crowd by going ahead.
And it was a well-worked and beautifully simple opener. Wilfried Zaha left Milner standing as he raced down the left and then centred a pinpoint ball for Andros Townsend to fire low into the bottom corner. The Eagles have already proved this season they can be a dangerous side for the very top teams, and Klopp must have been wondering whether he was to be the next victim.
Salah bagged the only goal of the game to win three crucial points against Brighton last week, and after being largely anonymous during the first 45 minutes, it took him just two minutes of the second half to draw the Reds level. After defending so well in the first half, Palace made a complete hash of a clearance which Van Dijk sent back in; the ball fell to Salah for the Egyptian to direct a clever volley into the bottom corner.
That was enough to get the Anfield Kop on their feet, and they were up again five minutes later when Firmino made it 2-1. The Brazilian had a huge slice of luck after he scuffed his shot, but it took a nasty deflection which sent the ball across the goal and into the net.
We said the Eagles were dangerous, though, and they refused to lie down. And when big defender James Tomkins met a corner his header flew back across goal and into the Liverpool goal. 2-2.
Liverpool had to do it all again.
And they did, on 76 minutes, but what a shocker poor old Speroni had. Milner crossed and the veteran keeper leapt to meet it, but only diverted it towards his own goal, where Salah nipped in to claim the goal.
Palace refused to give up and really should have equalised on 83 minutes when Patrick van Aahnolt swung a cross over, but Jeffrey Schlupp headed wide when he should have scored.
James Milner saw red on 89 minutes when he put in a late challenge on Zaha; he was already on a yellow and it was an easy decision for the ref. But Mane settled Liverpool’s nerves with a cool finish in injury time/ Palace substitute Max Meyer made it 4-3 right at the death, though.
What a game!
After a breath-taking match, Mo Salah has moved on to 16 league goals this season and bagged his 50th in the Premier League.
That’s nine home wins on the trot for the Reds, and Townsend’s opener was only the fourth goal Liverpool had conceded at home in the league. By the end of the game, Alisson had conceded three goals, to double the number he has shipped at Anfield.
The Palace keeper made the Premier League 2019 news, taking the honour of being the oldest player in the Premier League having been recalled by Hodgson for his first appearance in over a year.
And this was the first time Hodgson had lost at Anfield as a visiting manager.
Another win means the Premier League 2019 odds still back a Liverpool title win, and the Reds have a breather next week having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Wolves. They don’t play again until Wednesday, 30th January, when Leicester City head to Anfield.
Roy Hodgson’s Eagles host Spurs in the FA Cup fourth round, and with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son out injured, Palace will fancy that one. Then it’s back to Premier League business and a crunch survival clash away to Southampton.
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