A frustrating afternoon at Anfield has a positive ending as a single Sadio Mané strike proves enough to defeat Crystal Palace…
Liverpool’s shocking run of consecutive home defeats to Crystal Palace is over after Saturday’s Premier League encounter between the two ended in a 1-0 victory for the hosts.
As the game progressed there was an increasing sense of uneasiness around Anfield, with the Eagles looking to complete their fourth smash and grab raid in a row, not least when ex-Reds frontman Christian Benteke was presented with a golden opening shortly before the hour mark.
That the unmarked frontman, who like his current employers has regularly been a thorn in Liverpool’s side in recent years, somehow hammered the ball over the bar from eight-yards out suggested that the regular pattern of these encounters might not be followed on this occasion.
And so it was to prove when the otherwise quiet and ineffective, by his usual standards at least, Sadio Mané scored the only goal of the game in the 73rd minute after the Eagles had failed to fully clear an attack involving lively substitute Dominic Solanke.
Although decidedly unconvincing the win was fully merited with the Merseysiders having 72% of possession and mustering 23 goal attempts to Palace’s four.
Jürgen Klopp‘s men should have eased the tension much sooner with both Joël Matip and Mané missing glorious opportunities while the scoreline remained 0-0.
Solanke, debutant Andrew Robertson and Mohamed Salah all went close to adding a second in the closing stages but ultimately Mané’s strike proved to be enough to secure the three points.
Analysing the performance of his side, which featured five changes from the midweek Champions League play-off first leg win over Hoffenheim, Klopp was especially pleased with the defence.
“We can talk about defending – it was outstandingly good today,” remarked the German at his post-match press conference. “Crystal Palace, last week against Huddersfield, started really football-playing and then Huddersfield were 2-0 up and they became a little bit more direct, using Benteke. We really defended this outstandingly good…
“Football playing in the first half could have been better, 100 per cent. I’m really happy that we scored and we created chances in the second half.
“It’s about timing and we didn’t see the spaces in the first half often enough, but we could show the players at half-time where the spaces are – one little pass, one switch and the world is much nicer.
“But even in this first half we had good moments, especially crosses from Robbo from the left side but with nobody in the box because pretty much all the offensive players – Daniel [Sturridge], Roberto [Firmino] – were involved in preparing the crosses.
“In the second half we did a lot better, created more chances and scored, I thought, a wonderful goal. It was not the best one-two but Dom stayed awake and put the foot in. It was counter-pressing, I love it. Sadio was alone and could score – well deserved, not perfect but well deserved.”
Next up for Liverpool is the return with Hoffenheim at Anfield on Wednesday. The Reds hold a 2-1 advantage from last week’s first leg in Germany.
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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