Just days after Liverpool had gained a 2-1 advantage in their Champions League play-off match against German side Hoffenheim, they faced a potential banana-skin affair at home to Crystal Palace. The Red’s boss Jurgen Klopp made 5 changes to his side for the match against Frank De Boer’s men including a debutant in Andrew Robertson.
The first half: A half to REMEMBER for robertson
From the very get-go, Liverpool were direct in putting pressure on the Palace defence who conceded 3 at home to Huddersfield last weekend. The first real sniff at goal came in the 12th minute when James Milner burst down the byline but instead of searching for a team-mate, he went for goal himself, only for his effort to be easily taken by Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey.
4 minutes later and again Liverpool had another chance, this one an even better opportunity for the hosts. Andrew Robertson who made a bright start to the game whipped a looping ball into the box which Hennessey missed and unfortunately for the Reds, Joel Matip couldn’t convert a header from 3 yards out, albeit the ball certainly took him by surprise; a big let off for Palace.
Half an hour into the game and Liverpool were still on top. One of the five changes made at the start of the match was Daniel Sturridge and he produced a lovely spin and shot from 35 yards out, however the shot was certainly audacious and ended up high and wide.
The lead up to half time was a busy one for both sides and Andrew Robertson, the former Hull man was very impressive. The left-back produced a number of quality balls into the box and Sadio Mane should have done better when Robertson’s ball in found his feet, however he couldn’t react quick enough and Hennessey collected the loose ball.
In the 41st minute, Roberto Firmino had an attempt from 25 yards, which forced busy Palace keeper Hennessey into another save and swiftly after saving, Palace were on an attack of their own…
Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek played a good ball through to Jason Puncheon but the former Southampton man’s shot was beaten away by Simon Mignolet.
Half time then arrived soon after and it was 0-0, a fair score-line. Left-back Andrew Robertson was causing the Palace defence many problems but no break-through as of yet was made by the Reds…
The second half: one goal enough for the reds
With the second half underway at Anfield, Liverpool again were the side to come racing out the blocks. 10 minutes into the half, James Milner’s corner delivery found Joel Matip but the danger was booted clear or so they thought, with the ball kindly falling to Georginio Wijnaldum who directed a powerfully-hit volley towards the bottom corner, only to be denied again by Hennessey.
Similar to the first half, Crystal Palace then came racing up the other end and easily had the best chance to put themselves into the lead. Timothy Tosu-Mensah played a lovely ball forward to Ruben Loftus-Cheek who beat Ragnar Klavan to the byline with ease, the 21-year-old then looked up and found a brilliant cut-back to Christian Benteke who simply had to score but failed to keep his shot on target from only yards out. The former Liverpool man knows he missed a big chance.
Jurgen Klopp must be given credit for his substitutions though, who both consequently changed the game. Mohammed Salah and Dominic Solanke both came on for their home debut’s and caused problems for the Palace side that were tiring after constant defending for the majority of the game.
The break-through however finally came in the 73rd minute and it was Sadio Mane. Andrew Robertson had a ball in intercepted by Luca milivojevic but the ball cannoned between him and Dominic Solanke, with the ball breaking free into the path of Sadio Mane, who calmly slotted past Wayne Hennessey who had done so well to keep Palace in the game for 70 minutes.
The Anfield crowd was rocking in celebration and they believed their side could grab another as Crystal Palace look short on confidence after falling behind.
The Pace of Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah had the ability to creat mayhem for Frank De Boer’s defence and it could have been more in the end for Liverpool. Deep into the 92nd minute, Salah had created a chance for himself, cutting inside and unleashing a shot destined for the top corner only for Hennessey once again to be equal to it.
After four long minutes, the whistle was blown and Liverpool had their deserved 3 points. The Eagles now find themselves still without a point but they can certainly take positives from their performance today.
Main talking point:
How did Christian Benteke miss?
With the Eagles finding chances on rare occasions during the game, Benteke had to make it 1-0 midway through the second half. His spell at Anfield wasn’t a success much like his finishing today but the man who commanded a £32m fee when Crystal Palace, many will be questioning how exactly he missed such a golden chance.
Possession: Liverpool: 72% Crystal Palace: 28%
Shots: Liverpool: 23 Crystal Palace: 4
Shots on target: Liverpool: 13 Crystal Palace: 1
Corners: Liverpool: 4 Crystal Palace: 2
Fouls: Liverpool: 12 Crystal Palace 13
Liverpool line-up (4-3-3): Mignolet 7, Gomez 7, Matip 6, Klavan 6, Robertson 9, Henderson 7, Milner 7, Wijnaldum 6 (Solanke 7), Mane 8, Firmino 7 (Lovren N/A), Sturridge 6 (Salah 7)
Crystal Palace line-up (3-4-2-1): Hennessy 8, Fosu-Mensah 7, Dann 6, Tomkins 6, Ward 6, Milivojevic 6 (Kaikai 6), Puncheon 6 (McArthur 6), Van Aahnolt 6 (Schlupp N/A), Townsend 6, Loftus-Cheek 8, Benteke 6