Liverpool 3 - 0 Crystal Palace
Liverpool: Mané 42’, Salah 78’, Keïta 89’
Klopp announced an interesting line-up. Both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson sat out for James Milner and Kostas Tsimikas on the wings. Completing the defense for the Reds was Virgil van Dijk and a first start for Ibrahima Konate. As expected, Roberto Firmino was out injured, with Diogo Jota filling the front three in his place.
An early scare for Liverpool required fast hands from Alisson to save the Reds from going quickly behind. Wilifred Zaha found a way in and aimed a shot to Alisson’s far corner. Luckily, the Brazilian stretched out wide and batted the ball to safely out of play.
The result was a bolt of electricity for the Reds, who took control of the game and attempted to carve out an opening in the Crystal Palace defense. Jordan Henderson got the closest in the 15th minute after a nice run of play that saw the captain nearly get a second goal in two games from a wide angle.
Following the shaky first five minutes, the game became all Liverpool with the Reds dominating possession and repeatedly attacking the Palace goal. A combination of Palace defending and bad luck kept the ball out of the goal. In the 36th minute, Henderson got a good cross into the box. Thiago headed it at the goal. The shot was knocked away by Guaita right to Jota, who somehow skied it over the net from about two yards out.
Finally the inevitable goal came from Sadio Mané, notching his 100th Liverpool goal to break the deadlock at Anfield. Tsimikas delivered a corner to the head of Mohamed Salah. Once again, Guaita got hands on it. The ball bounced teasingly in front of goal, and was the first player to get to it, hammering it home.
Palace ended the half with a corner opportunity that got a bit nervy for the Reds, but was thankfully smothered by Alisson before the ref blew the whistle.
The second half began with some weak long range efforts from Liverpool players: first Salah and then Henderson. The game slowed down a bit in the second half, both teams looking unlikely to until the referee called a somewhat dubious foul against Tsimikas right outside of the box. Thankfully, the wall did its job and the chance went begging for Crystal Palace.
Thiago Alcantara went off injured early in the half and was replaced by Naby Keïta in the midfield for the Reds’ first change of the game.
Crystal Palace began applying pressure in the 70th minute, recognizing that the game was open enough for them to get something from this match. Jota went off for Curtis Jones in the 76th minute, right before Milner earned Liverpool a free kick. Édouard puts the resulting effort out for a corner.
In a repeat of their first goal, Salah got his own rebounded goal from a header to make it 2-0. Not one to be outdone, that’s Salah’s 99th goal for Liverpool.
Alisson had a magnificent match, consistently denying Zaha and Édouard time and again, effortlessly keeping Liverpool dominating the game.
It doesn’t take Keïta long at all after coming onto the pitch to score perhaps the greatest goal of his life to make it 3-0. He and I had largely the same response to his bullet of a long range effort, which once again began from a set piece: absolute dumbfounded shock. What a gorgeous way to end this match.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
A fun and entertaining match on what looked like a lovely day at Anfield saw Liverpool take home three points and a clean sheet against Crystal Palace.
What is your Liverpool man of the match against Crystal Palace?
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