Set piece concessions, late goals and sucker punches on the counter. Like that ex you never quite got over, Crystal Palace brought the worst out of Liverpool in an attempt to derail yet another title challenge.
Five years removed from the smash-and-grab 3-3 draw in this same fixture that effectively ended their 2014 Premier League title run, this time Jürgen Klopp’s squad displayed their newfound resilience to squeak past their forever bogey team by a margin of 4-3.
Two goals in extra time from both sides made for a heart-pounding ending to an already nerve-wracking game for Liverpool fans as the Reds came from behind, took the lead, lost it, regained it again then had their backs to the wall down to 10 men at the very end following a deserved James Milner sending off.
“We had to stay positive,” Klopp admitted in his post-match interview. “Being one down is not a massive blow, we just needed to win the second half and did what we had to do. ‘It’s a massive relief. We knew for different reasons the game would be difficult.
“Crystal Palace traditionally do well against Liverpool and with the physicality it was clear it would be like the first half was.”T
The 4-3 victory sees Liverpool move seven points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who travel to Huddersfield Town on Sunday.
“We tried to control the game but we were not patient enough,” the Reds manager added. “They didn’t come out of their half so we were trying to play in really small spaces. They had their counter attack still and that’s how they got their set pieces.
“I think it’s a foul on Virgil van Dijk, they always block heavily but then they go and score the goal for 2-2.
“We got lucky for 3-2 and with all the set pieces they’re still a threat so it stayed interesting until the end. The result is massive, we have 60 points now it’s crazy, it’s an important number.
“I’m really proud, a few things happened that we don’t really need, we’re a bit short now on players but we have a few days and need to use the time now for recovery.”
Regardless of how they were won, the three points, as they say, are all that matters. The Reds squad heads off to Dubai for a mini break before returning in 11 days time to welcome Leicester City to Anfield again in league action.