Liverpool are going home tonight with three points after a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace, but they’re doing so knowing that they’re very fortunate. For most of the first half they looked like they might put the match away early, but they lost control just before the break.
They were able to make it to halftime unscathed, but the home side came out and took it to the visitors for most of the remaining 45 minutes. A dodgy penalty kick just before injury time gave the Reds a cushion that allowed them to hold onto the lead, but it could very easily be argued they deserved no more than a point.
Manager Jürgen Klopp gave his take on the uneven performance in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.
“It was a bit Jekyll and Hyde football today,” said Klopp. “You could see how good we can be. We were incredible in the first 35 minutes. Then after an intense week, away at Arsenal, I don’t have any real explanation but the intensity might be one. We became sloppy in the last line.”
The back four[ had a very rough go of it after starting the new year with a strong defensive record. They could not seem to get the offside trap right, and they struggled to organize themselves and stop a Palace attack that was running rampant.
“In the second half we were not compact, the first line pressed too high and the distance was not right,” admitted Klopp. “We played a high line and did not catch them offside which was our fault of course.”
Fortunately for Liverpool, Alisson Becker was able to rescue his teammates time and time again. It’s not a stretch to say the Reds would likely be going home with a draw or even a loss if not for the Brazilian goalkeeper’s heroics, something the manager was keenly aware of.
“I said to him now, thank you for saving our ass again,” revealed Klopp. “He said ‘that’s my job’. I said ‘yes, that’s the job of all goalkeepers, but they don’t do it that often anyway!’ Of course, it is very helpful to have a world-class goalkeeper at the back.”
As for the aforementioned penalty kick, awarded controversially with the aid of VAR, Klopp admitted he thought it was the right call, though he understood why Palace didn’t see it the same way.
“I didn’t see it back but I don’t think I have to because we thought it was [a penalty] and the referee did. The Crystal Palace people did not, which I understand.”
Controversial penalty or not, Klopp was thankful to escape with a victory and is ready for some of his players to get a respite during the upcoming international break after a hectic holiday period.
“It was a big three points for us. An intense period so a little breather now which helps...at least for most of us, not for all of us. The Brazilians have to go, Taki [Minamino] has to go, but for the rest, we take a deep breath and we start again.”