Liverpool stays 8 points clear after beating Palace 2-1

The Associated Press
Crystal Palace's Patrick van Aanholt, left and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool, at Selhurst Park, London, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)
Crystal Palace's Patrick van Aanholt, left and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool, at Selhurst Park, London, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) -- Roberto Firmino struck in the 85th minute to give Liverpool a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace as the English Premier League leader maintained its eight-point advantage on Saturday.

Wilfried Zaha equalized in the 82nd minute for Palace with his first goal of the season after Sadio Mane's opener in the 49th.

But Liverpool showed more resolve with another late goal in a season full of them, Firmino lashing home left-footed from close range following a goalmouth scramble.

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Liverpool has won 12 of its 13 league games in this campaign and extended its unbeaten run in the division to 30 games.

Roy Hodgson, the Palace manager who used to be in charge of Liverpool, thought his side took the lead when James Tomkins headed home at the end of the first half. VAR ruled out the goal for a push in the buildup, however.

Liverpool, which kept Mohamed Salah on the bench because of a recent ankle injury, dominated the opening exchanges at an electric Selhurst Park but was denied an early goal when Tomkins blocked Mane's effort from Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross.

After a testing 10 minutes, Palace forced three corners in quick succession before a golden chance arrived in the 17th minute. Cheikhou Kouyate was able to pick out the run of Jordan Ayew but the Palace forward could only poke wide from 12 yards (meters) out.

Zaha wasted another decent opportunity five minutes later when he ballooned off target a volley, which Andros Townsend managed to control near the corner flag, although the moment had by that point gone.

The Reds looked to respond and a smart clearance by Ayew in the 38th stopped Firmino having a simple tap-in after Virgil Van Dijk's header from a corner.

At the other end, Alexander-Arnold was being given a stern examination by Zaha and almost saw a rash tackle on the Ivory Coast international result in a goal. Luka Milivojevic's free kick by the corner flag was inadvertently flicked on by Gini Wijnaldum and Tomkins headed in at the back post.

VAR noticed Ayew fouled Dejan Lovren in the buildup and it was rubbed out.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp managed to get his side to regroup at the interval and four minutes into the second half, the visitors made the breakthrough.

Mane controlled Andy Robertson's cross and his left-footed effort was pushed onto the post by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, who watched in horror as the back spin of the ball took it onto the other post and over the line.

It was Mane's eighth goal in 10 Premier League appearances against Palace and he has scored in five straight games against Palace for Liverpool.

Hodgson's team responded by peppering the Liverpool goal, with Townsend and Milivojevic forcing goalkeeper Alisson Becker into action. Yet only a faint touch by Guaita denied Firmino a goal in the 65th.

Palace leveled the score when Christian Benteke linked up with Townsend, before Zaha opened his body and drilled into the corner.

It was short-lived joy for the Eagles.

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