The Reds triumph in a goalscoring bonanza at Anfield, in a performance more akin to the Liverpool of last season. Fans and players alike were rightfully nervous but the current squad proved yet again they have the mental strength to grind out a hhard-foughtvictory.
The Reds lined up to show their respect for the late-great Bob Paisley pre-game & Crystal Palace had a clear game plan with their 4-5-1 without the ball.
As usual with a Hodgson side, they were extremely difficult to break down. Our best chance of the first-half fell to Joël Matip, after James Milner slipped him through in the six yard box. Despite impressive movement, Matip was unable to dink it over the outrushing Julian Speroni.
The Reds pressed high to good effect, until Luka Milivojevic managed to evade around four onrushing Liverpool players. The ball made it’s way to Wilfried Zaha who showed his class again, skinning Milner and cutting it back across the Liverpool box.
Townsend had already made his run & despite a last ditch tackles from Fabinho & Alisson’s best efforts, the Brazilian duo were powerless to stop the goal. 1-0 to Crystal Palace, 34 minutes in.
The Eagles managed to see that scoreline out to half-time and some mild trepidation set in amongst some Kopites. Hodgson tactics had managed to stifle us and all was going to well for the visiting team. Some were calling for Shaqiri to be brought on after the break but whatever Jürgen Klopp said in the dressing room seemed to do the trick.
Immediately after the whistle for the second-half Liverpool penned the Palace defence back to their goal line. With just 90 seconds on the clock, Virgil Van Dijk released a thunderous strike, which ricocheted off one of the many defenders.
Julian Speroni began to rush out but a sublime run from Mohamed Salah meant he had to back peddle. The ball spiralled up 30 feet in the air and although the Egyptian made the finish look easy, to finish the chance with the poise and control he exhibited showed why he’s considered world class.
A moment of pure goalscoring opportunism had Anfield bouncing again & the second goal seemed absolutely inevitable. After a few dangerous attacks, Liverpool were pilling forwards.
Naby Keïta controlled the ball from a corner & managed slide Roberto Firmino in, with plenty of work to do inside the box. His jinking was reminiscent of his goal at Anfield against PSG earlier in the season and as he got his shot away at goal a large deflection sent it flying into the bottom right hand corner.
A trademark madcap Bobby celebration followed. There was nothing Palace could do and although both goals had an element of luck in them, they were both thoroughly deserved.
At this point, the feeling was very much ‘normal service has resumed.’ You’d be forgiven for assuming Klopp’s men would see this game out now at 2-1 but Wilfried Zaha had other ideas.
Makeshift right-back James Milner was isolated with the Ivorian who quickly began to show why many believe him to be the best player in the Premier League outside the top 6 clubs. His inventiveness won the visiting team a corner & as Luka MIlivojevic’s ball was swung in, James Tomkins was allowed a free header at the far post. It seemed Fabinho was drawn to Jordan Ayew & left the centre-back completely free. 25 minutes to go, game on.
Xherdan Shaqiri was sent on for Keïta to inject some much needed fresh ideas in Liverpool’s attack. The threat was clear and obvious, with Fabinho picking the ball up on the edge of the area and dinking a lovely diagonal ball towards the byline.
33-year-old James Milner didn’t show his age. He wasn’t going to give up on it, managing to make a diving cross that put Julian Speroni in no man’s land.
The 39-year-old Argentine did, however, show perhaps a lack of agility, managing to tip the ball – but only back towards his own goal. Mohamed Salah was there again to take his goal tally to 16 for the season after goal-line technology was needed to prove he got his touch before the ball inevitably crossed the line.
The side with the least goals conceded this season had to see out a home lead for 15 minutes. It sounded easy, but Roy Hodgson’s men had different ideas.
Wilfried Zaha was at it again, he had a James Milner on toast. Milner was booked for a heavy challenge on the tricky winger in the 83rd minute as the visitors continued to attack Liverpool with purpose.
Tensions then flared up in the 89th minute, with Liverpool trying to close the game out, a simple pass across the halfway line threatened to turn the game.
Firmino let the ball run to Milner without seeing the ever-eager Wilfried Zaha poised to break away with it. It was the definition of a hospital ball and there was only one winner. Zaha knocked it past Milner, who went right through him. It was a clear sending off for a second bookable offence.
With just minutes left to go Palace quite rightfully threw caution to the wind and pressed the 10 men of Liverpool but that left them open at the back. Just after the 90, Sadio Mané was clear with Mohamed Salah with him sprinting from the half-way line. James Tomkins managed to catch the Sadio however and the resulting shot was tame, to say the least. But this was a sign of things to come.
A couple of minutes later, Andy Robertson managed to epitomise himself – not giving up on a lost cause and keeping a ball in that seemed to be rolling across the touchline inside Palace’s half. His ball put Sadio Mané in behind, but this time the Senegalese attacker had no intentions of continuing his recent goal drought. His powerful run led him into the box as he tucked it into the opposition net.
Relief flooded around Anfield with two-goal cushion, perhaps putting the players into too much comfort. The 95th minute rolled along & somehow Liverpool lost their men, with Connor Wickham squaring the ball to Max Meyer. The German tucked it home from 15 yards, with potential question marks over some aspects of the defending.
But thankfully there were no more near heart-attacks – Jon Moss finally blew for full-time. The Reds showed grit and determination to find a win against a spirited Crystal Palace team. Having only conceded 3 goals all season at home before today, it wasn’t the finest day at the office at the back – but Jürgen will take that as his men take another three points as they march on in their title challenge.
Written by Bianca Boullart (@LovingLallana) & Robert Rogers (@RobRLFC)