Liverpool overvame one of their bogey teams Crystal Palace with a hard earned 2-1 victory in an early kick-off match on Saturday.
The match at Selhurst Park was expected to be tricky for the Reds as they are the team with the second worst record in the league after in fixtures just after the international breaks, and indeed it was.
The Jurgen Klopp-managed side was never able to establish a firm grip on the match despite taking home all the three points. At one point it really looked like Roy Hodgson and his boys were really going to upset the Reds.
However, in the end goals from Africans Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah clinched a comeback for the Merseysiders after Luka Milivojevic scored for the Eagles from the spot early in the game.
Wilfried Zaha causes the trouble for the Reds
Former Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha was an injury doubt for the game on Saturday and caused some headache to Hodgson. However, the Ivorian shook away the injury concerns and was named in the Palace first eleven.
And it was that man who caused all the havocs for the Liverpool defence, Trent Alexander-Arnold in particular. Since the first whistle of the game, Zaha kept the Reds defenders on top of their toes.
The 25-year-old almost gave his side the lead in the eighth minute of the game when he got to the end of lofted long ball from Yohan Cabaye, held off Alexander-Arnold and got a shot away at goal, but was tremendously saved by Liverpool number one Loris Karius.
Just four minutes later, he stung! Zaha again caused trouble on the left wing after receiving a flicked pass from former Liverpool player Christian Benteke. It was him and Karius racing to reach to the ball first, which ended with the former winning and the latter catching his opponent.
Karius was booked and Palace were rightfully awarded a penalty, which was comfortably slotted home by midfielder Milivojevic.
The case of Sadio Mane
Reds winger Sadio Mane is definitely one of the top talking points of the day as the player was very much involved till he got substituted in the 64 minutes mark.
Just before Palace scored, Liverpool had a chance to score from a corner. James Milner neatly delivered a corner into the box, which was met by Virgil van Dijk with his head.
The ball looked like going in, but was bizarrely deflected away by….well…Mane. The Senegalese winger was perhaps trying to make sure that the ball found the back of the net by flicking van Dijk’s header, but only ended helping the Palace defenders’ cause.
Fast forward to the 24th minute of the game, around 12 minutes later the Eagles’ took the lead, Mane was booked. The ex-Southampton man went down in the Palace penalty box after a reckless challenge from James McArthur. However there was only a slight contact and Mane took the most out of it, which resulted in the attacker getting booked.
While it might only have been the faintest of touches, a foul is a foul and McArthur can consider himself lucky for that.
Meanwhile, Liverpool had started turning the screws and Palace were under more and more pressure.
And in the 30th minute of the game Mane equalised for the Reds, but the celebrations were cut short as the referee spotted the player to be offside.
The game was not even halfway through and it was already way frustrating for the winger.
Mane got redemption for the arguably unfair booking he got in the first half as he nullified Palace’s goal just four minutes into the second half. The 25-year-old easily turned a low cross from Milner from the left side of the box home, making the scoreboard read ‘one all’.
Mane was subbed-off for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just 15 minutes later, but he was wad involved in yet another controversy before that when he handled the ball in the edge of his own penalty area after he was convinced that he wad fouled by McArthur.
To his surprise the referee Neil Swarbrick didn’t think so and gave a decision against him. The 52-year-old restrained himself from showing the Liverpool man a second yellow and sending him off.
Cometh the hour, Cometh the man: Mohamed Salah
Even though Klopp’s men enjoyed the majority of the possession towards the business end of the game, they were not able to come up with something promising and it seemed as if the teams were going to share the points. But Mohamed ‘The Egyptian King’ Salah had other plans!
With just six minutes for the nintety minutes mark, Salah scored the winner for his side and his 29th league goal of the season in much composed manner.
Andy Robertson volleyed the ball into the centre of the Palace box to find Salah, whose first touch took Mamadou Sakho out of the equation and the second with his right foot found the back of the net. And that was the game wrapped up.
The Egyptian is just three goals away from breaking the record for the most goals scored in a 38-match Premier League jointly held by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. Liverpool still have six more games to play in the league this season.
Andy Robertson, man of the match
It might be Mane and Salah who stole the limelight for Liverpool on Saturday, but it was the Scottish left-back Andy Robertson who was truly the man of match.
The former Hull defender was involved in both of the Liverpool goals including the crucial assist for Salah’s winner.
Robertson had three successful dribbles on the afternoon which was only second best to Zaha’s tally of four.
The 24-year-old was on top his game defensively aswell. The left-back made one interception, two tackles and four clearances in the match.
Liverpool look to have solved their long term left-back issue with the signing of Robertson this season and to the think that he was signed for just £8 million is astounding.
Klopp will be happy to take home all the three points on his 100th Premier League game as Liverpool manager, thanks to goals from Mane and Salah. However, Benteke will be ruing his his missed chances that would have sealed the match for the Eagles.
Written by Dakir Thanveer
Follow Dakir on Twitter @ZakWriter
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