Crystal Palace 1 - 2 Liverpool
Crystal Palace: Zaha 82’
Liverpool: Mané 48’, Firmino 84’
Alright, crack your knuckles, grab a beer and let’s go. Liverpool are back in business, and their first task will to take on Crystal Palace at the always unwelcoming Selhurst Park. Mohamed Salah has only been deemed fit for the bench, but Andy Robertson starts. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose been on an excellent run of form, gets the start in his place.
Liverpool start out on the offensive, but a terrible back pass from Alexander-Arnold to Alisson veers wildly off course and ends up costing the Reds an early corner. Thankfully, nothing comes of it, and they very nearly manage to get something going on the break.
Crystal Palace’s tight defense has kept Liverpool from making any significant advances into the final third in the first 20 minutes. It doesn’t help that Alexander-Arnold has been having a bit of a clanger so far. Still plenty of time to get himself together though.
It’s Palace that seems the most likely to score nearly half an hour into the game as Liverpool can’t get anything going on the attack and appear slow in defense. Mane has barely made an impression.
Van Dijk nearly sneaks a header into the back of the net off of a corner sloppily allowed by Gary Cahill 37 minutes in. It’s the closest that Liverpool have come, but the shot is blocked by Guaita in goal.
And finally Crystal Palace gets the goal that has been coming for a while in this game. Tomkins gets his head on a free kick delivery and tucks it into the goal at the near post. Oh, oh, oh, but wait. VAR has decided that there was a push on Dejan Lovren in the lead up to the goal, and it has been disallowed. Wowee. Ok. Well then, the game remains goalless as VARpool strikes again and the entire city of Manchester likely rips their hair out in frustration.
Liverpool end the half with no shots on target and a lucky let off to keep things even.
GOALLL!!!!! 48’ - Mané
Palace start off the game with a quick corner, but it’s Mané who gets the goal!!
His first attempt on the break is off target, but a moment later, he gets a dribbling volley to find its way into the net, thanks in part to a deflection off of Gary Cahill. Liverpool score with their first shot on target, and it’s no surprise that Mané is the one who breaks the deadlock.
Townsend sends a screamer in from 40 yards out, but Alisson is up to the task and pushes it over the bar for a corner.
Firmino picks up a yellow card which means he’ll sit out next weekend’s game against Brighton.
Liverpool come agonizingly close to a much-needed second goal on a corner. Mané gets a touch on the delivery to send it fizzing past the goal, but Lovren can’t quite reach it. A strong wind would have been enough to divert it into the back of the net, but that wasn’t to be.
Klopp makes the first change, and it’s Oxlade-Chamberlain who makes way for Divock Origi.
It’s taken more than half the game, but the Reds finally seem to be waking up after their international break snooze. Firmino gets another shot on target, but Guaita is lucky to get a hand on it and push it around the post. Liverpool continue to push forward in their search for a second.
Benteke comes on and gets a scissor kick that very nearly hits the target.
Jordan Henderson comes off in the 79th minute, replaced by James Milner, and gets a bit of stick from the crowd for taking his sweet time making his way off the pitch.
Looks like all his time wasting was for nothing, as Wilfred Zaha evens up the score in the 82nd minute, giving Liverpool a whole lot of work to do in the last 10 minutes.
GOALLLL!! 82’ - Firmino
And two minutes later, the work is done! Firmino gets the last touch on a scramble in front of the goal, managing to just barely dink it in. I’ll take it, fam. It’s nice to see Firmino get on the score sheet for the first time since September.
Divock Origi gets a talking to from Klopp when he stays down too long for the boss’s liking. I love our manager.
Woof. Wilfred Zaha gets a clear shot at the goal but hoofs it high into the stands.
That was a journey, but seeing Roy Hodgson’s face at the end made it all worth the fight. Liverpool will remain at least eight points clear at the top of the table.