Liverpool strike late (again) to beat Crystal Palace

Joe Prince-Wright

Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s Premier League leaders secured another dramatic late victory.

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Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead after VAR drama denied Crystal Palace an opener, but Wilfried Zaha equalized late on as it looked like Liverpool would drop points.

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But Roberto Firmino then popped up to secure the win for Liverpool as the leaders make it 12 wins from 13 to start the season and remain unbeaten.

3 things we learned

1. Mane delivers again: Sadio Mane popped up to put Liverpool ahead and he was a constant threat, especially in the second half. Everything they did well going forward, Mane was at the heart of it. The Senegalese forward stepped up with Mohamed Salah out for Liverpool, and proved that he is their main man this season.

2. VAR drama takes center stage: Yes, Jordan Ayew pushed Dejan Lovren, but the Liverpool defender made the most of the contact. VAR was used to rule out James Tomkins‘ goal in the first half and in slow-motion the push looked clear, but in real-time there was a reason the foul wasn’t given. This decision was very harsh on Palace and Liverpool will be very relieved.

3. Liverpool grinding it out: Jurgen Klopp’s side put in their worst display of the season and they still won. They have a great habit of grinding out wins this season and they did it once again. But even after Firmino’s late winner they gave up a big chance which Zaha skied. Liverpool shouldn’t have won this game, but they did. That is why their are the champions elect.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – He stood tall in attack without Salah and even though many of his Liverpool teammates failed to perform, he did. Mane is the man of the season for Liverpool.

After a tight start to the game Palace had the first big chance of the game but Jordan Ayew flicked just wide.

Ayew then cleared brilliantly just as it looked like Liverpool would finish off Virgil Van Dijk‘s downward header.

All hell broke loose at the other end of the pitch just before half time as James Tomkins thought he had given Palace the lead but VAR ruled out his goal for a foul by Jordan Ayew on Dejan Lovren. The home fans and players were livid as Lovren went down easily but there was a clear push. No goal as Liverpool survived a huge scare.

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Mane was put clean through by Jordan Henderson at the start of the second but he put his effort wide.

Moments later Mane made no mistake.

A ball into the box saw him hit his shot into the ground and although Vicente Guiata got a hand to his shot, the ball hit the post, rolled across the goaline, hit the other past and just squirmed past Patrick Van Aanholt who was trying to clear it.

Palace had a few shots from distance which troubled Liverpool but they became more vulnerable on the break as Mane and Lovren almost got on the end of a ball across the box, then Guaita denied Roberto Firmino on the break.

Former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke came on and had a big impact as his acrobatic effort flew wide.

Benteke was then involved as Townsend teed up Zaha who equalized to send Selhurst Park as it looked like Palace would deny Liverpool victory.

But then, just as they’ve done all season, Liverpool found a way to win when they weren’t at their best.

Van Dijk’s effort caused havoc in the box and the ball eventually found Firmino who slotted home after an almighty scrap. Cue wild scenes in the away end.

In stoppage time Palace almost equalized as Zaha skied an effort over the bar, but Liverpool held on to make it 12 wins from 13.

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