Liverpool remained level on points at the top of the Premier League table after recording a 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace in an entertaining game at Selhurst Park on Saturday evening.
The Reds led twice early on in south London through efforts from Emre Can and Dejan Lovren, but both were cancelled out by headed equalisers from James McArthur.
However, Joel Matip grabbed the crucial third for Jürgen Klopp’s side just before half-time and Roberto Firmino put the result beyond doubt with a deft finish in the second period.
The key points…
- Can put Liverpool into early lead, but McArthur equalised two minutes later via Lovren mistake.
- Centre-back made instant amends by heading in Reds’ second moments after, but McArthur second levelled score just after half an hour.
- Matip claimed visitors’ third goal, nodding in Philippe Coutinho’s corner on 44, and Firmino made it 4-2 with chipped effort after break.
- Liverpool remain level on points with Manchester City and Arsenal at top of table.
The team news…
With James Milner ruled out due to illness, Alberto Moreno stepped in at left-back in the only change Klopp made to the Liverpool team that lined up in the last league outing against West Bromwich Albion one week ago.
In opposition, the hosts fielded two former Reds in the form of Christian Benteke and Martin Kelly.
The first half…
Sporting their fluorescent yellow third strip, Liverpool started sharply in the capital, dominating the early possession and heaping pressure on the Palace rearguard from the off.
And their early control was rewarded with just 16 minutes played when they opened the scoring.
Moreno collected a perfectly-weighted ball into the left channel from Coutinho and steered it into the direction of Can in the area, who turned a first-time shot into the back of the net.
However, Liverpool’s advantage lasted barely two minutes as they gifted the Eagles an equaliser.
A long ball forward was flicked on by Benteke, but Matip was alert to the danger, stooping to head square to Lovren just outside the box. The Croatia centre-back attempted to hook it back to Loris Karius, but under-hit his pass, allowing McArthur to steal in and nod over the advancing Reds goalkeeper.
It was a head-in-hands moment from Lovren – but he redeemed himself in the best possible fashion with the perfect riposte.
Coutinho’s corner found the No.6 at the back post and he bulleted a downward header beyond Steve Mandanda from close range.
In truth, it was no more than Liverpool deserved for their commanding opening – and it could have been even better had Joel Ward not managed to block a Firmino shot inside the box on the slide when a goal appeared inevitable.
Next, Moreno cracked the outside of the post after being teed up by Coutinho at the end of a lightning-speed counter.
It was all Liverpool; however, Palace were back on level terms just after the 30-minute mark when Wilfried Zaha pounced on a half-clearance and crossed for McArthur to meet at the near post with a header beyond Karius from six yards.
Back came the visitors and they saw two great chances go awry in quick succession when firstly Coutinho had a header from Firmino’s cross palmed onto the post by a stunning Mandanda save, before Sadio Mane struck high over the bar when unmarked 10 yards out.
But Palace’s resistance was finally broken once more when Matip headed in Liverpool’s third just before half-time, stealing in to slam Coutinho’s corner beyond the hosts’ ‘keeper and ensure the advantage was with Klopp’s men at the interval after an incredible opening half.
The second half…
The opening exchanges of the second period demonstrated few signs of any let-up in the game’s tempo.
It was the Eagles that fashioned the first opportunity when Benteke latched onto a ball into the area and managed to fire a half-volley towards the near post. Karius was on hand to block, however.
Meanwhile, Mandanda again frustrated Liverpool when he got a boot to an effort from Mane after the Senegal forward had been sent scampering behind the home side’s defence by Coutinho’s pass.
Benteke then curled directly into the arms of Karius when well placed inside the box and Nathaniel Clyne cleared from Yohan Cabaye at point-blank range in the area when the midfielder was set to strike.
Palace had been posing much more of a threat following the break, but their hopes of taking something from the game were undone with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Jordan Henderson spotted Firmino’s run into space from deep and slid a low ball into the Brazil striker, who gently guided a dink over Mandanda as he raced from his line.
And there were opportunities to enhance the scoreline in the Reds’ favour, but Coutinho was twice foiled by the home stopper.
Nevertheless, Klopp’s team had done enough to ensure all three points returned to Merseyside and their excellent opening to 2016-17 continued.
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