LIVERPOOL 2 - 0 CRYSTAL PALACE
Liverpool: Sadio Mane 36’ 74’
We’ve made it to the end of this nightmare of a season. As Liverpool fans, we’re used to a culture of tragedy and what-could-have-beens and in true fashion this season brought new kinds of pain and humiliation. But the mentality giants have clawed their way out of the mire as Steph puts it, and we’re at yet another final on the last day of the season. In better news, we have a Hendo sighting on the bench, as well as a Diogo sighting!
Jurgen Klopp has gone for the reliable XI of the latter half of the 2020-21 season, with the usual front three, a tenacious midfield of Fabinho, Thiago and (captain!) Gini, and the young heroes Nat and Rhys in central defence. I personally hope this isn’t Gini’s last game as a Red, but it very well could be, as Klopp’s programme notes indicated.
We can bag this win (we thumped Palace 7-0 earlier, remember), but it’s a question of how easy or difficult we make it for ourselves, so let’s not Liverpool this up, okay? Up the Reds!
Liverpool kick off the first half looking lively, but Palace unleashes a series of attacks from set pieces that sees the ball in Alisson’s half for a good spell. The Reds have a few good recoveries and spells of attacking play themselves, but chances are not finished. Palace capitalizes on Liverpool’s mistakes, and Andros Townsend runs towards Alisson but shoots the ball wide by inches. Anfield is singing once again, but there’s a palpable nervousness in the air as well.
Liverpool have 4 corners that amount to nothing, until the 35th minute when an Andy Robertson corner is nudged towards goal by Firmino, and Sadio Mane slides in on his back with the finishing touch - GOAL! And an important one!
Palace have more or less dropped off into pure defending after their initial 20-minute energetic run. The half ends 1-0 to Liverpool, and we’re third in the live league table (for now).
Liverpool attack their 10th corner in the opening minutes of the second half. 15 attempts and 3 on target for the Reds, while Palace haven’t had a shot on target since 14’. We see a few more intricate and downright saucy passing spells by the squad with Trent and Thiago orchestrating many of them. Which makes the poor finishing even more grating to watch. But Liverpool is patient and focused on controlling the game, and retaining their shape to find openings.
At 73’, Salah streaks down the pitch on a counter, flicks the ball to Mane who cooly controls it and strikes it into the net - GOAL!
At 76’ Gini is subbed off and receives a heartfelt cheer from the Anfield crowd - it’s been an honour, Gini.
The second half has seen a dominant display from the Reds, with little threat offered from Palace.
Liverpool had moments of silky team play that we haven’t seen in awhile. Squad chemistry looked close to what it’s been in recent past, buoyed by the encouragement from fans who’ve been sorely missed. But for all their fluidity, they were also wasteful, missing several ripe chances - this is something that will be worked on through the summer. And while the narrative will be spun, and narrated and retold several times, for now, this squad deserves rest and a huge Klopp hug for what they’ve achieved this season in the face of unprecedented adversity. This is no small feat, and fans will remember this squad’s tenacity for years to come. In 2021-22, we go again!