The defending at Selhurst Park got all dressed up for Halloween, terrifying both sets of supporters as well as the managers on the touchline, but it only turned into Fright Night for Crystal Palace.

Liverpool masked their shortcomings at the back with sensational movement and artistry in attack - Philippe Coutinho the principal architect of their spellbinding play - in a 4-2 win that condemned Alan Pardew’s men to their third consecutive defeat.

Jurgen Klopp, in the adjacent technical area, was celebrating the opposite: a third triumph on the spin in all competitions, which forms part of an 11-match unbeaten run.

His Reds are finding ways to win, even when they lose the ability to dictate a game on their terms.

Neither the German nor his counterpart would’ve envisaged this kind of scoreline during their preparation for the encounter, both envisaging a tighter battle - especially in both boxes.

But what was served up was pure entertainment, and not the gimmicky pre-match kind that centred around a guest American pitchside announcer and cheerleaders.

The story of the first half was as riveting as it was ridiculous, starting with three goals in a five-minute spell. The opener was born out of brilliant movement and build-up for Liverpool. Coutinho dropped deep to orchestrate play, which encouraged Alberto Moreno to overlap, and Emre Can to dart into the space created by the Brazilian’s positional switch.

The midfielder scored his first goal in 23 appearances after meeting Moreno’s infield volley from the left. The full-back had been picked out with a clever ball over the top from Coutinho after a sustained period of possession for the visitors.

At the other end though, Joel Matip knocked a long goal kick towards Dejan Lovren, and the centre-back hideously sliced the ball with James McArthur capitalising on the error to head beyond Loris Karius.

Palace did not stay level for long in an absorbing stanza of action. The Croatian made amends for his awful mistake almost immediately, heading in Coutinho’s corner. Much was made of Palace’s threat from set-pieces, but it was only Klopp’s side who made them count on Saturday evening.

Liverpool were irresistible in attack, but left the door ajar for the hosts in defence. Christian Benteke, facing his former club for the first time, was allowed to win a high ball before Moreno failed to stop Wilfried Zaha’s flat cross from the right. McArthur again punished Lovren, this time outmuscling the centre-back to head in his second of the evening.

Klopp was seething on the touchline as his charges lost three duels in the creation of the equaliser. "I'm not sure if we have played better offensively this season, but then we opened the game up ourselves at the back," he said afterwards.

Joel Ward aided home goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a deliberate handball to thwart a Coutinho header after fine work from Roberto Firmino, before Sadio Mane inconceivably sidefooted over the bar, unmarked, from 10 yards out after being picked out by a Nathaniel Clyne pass.

Palace then left Joel Matip unattended in the box as Coutinho sent in a corner from the right, and the Cameroon international powered a header in to record his first goal for the club.

The Eagles gave Andre Marriner, who awarded Liverpool a 95th-minute penalty in this fixture last season, a few spot kick decisions to make.

He waved them all away and while Benteke looked desperate to hurt his former club in the way he did before joining them, with five goals in six appearances, the Belgian could not find a breakthrough even when he forced matters.

It was Firmino, also recruited last summer by Liverpool for a similar fee to Benteke’s £32.5 million price tag, who further affected the scoreline.

He told Jordan Henderson where he wanted the ball, the midfielder obliged with the perfect pass and and the Brazilian deliciously dinked it over Steve Mandanda.

In a fixture that had almost everything, the one element lacking was a goal for Coutinho, who looked like he was playing on a different planet let alone pitch to everyone else.

He created all his side’s goals bar the final one from Firmino, pulling the strings and pulling Palace out of position.

Even when Liverpool are dirt in defending, they know they possess absolute gold up ahead with the 24-year-old and his fellow fleet-footed attackers.

Klopp will no doubt look to erase the needless errors at the back with comfort in the wisdom that even though the Reds are far from perfect, they are still absolutely frightening for the opposition. And for those above them only by virtue of goal difference in the standings.


This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.