Thursday 8 December 2016

Goal-hungry Liverpool underline credentials

Crystal Palace 2 Liverpool 4

Selhurst Park

Published 30/10/2016 | 02:30

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (right) battles with Crystal Palace’s Martin Kelly. Photo: PA
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (right) battles with Crystal Palace’s Martin Kelly. Photo: PA

On a day when all three of the Premier League's pacesetters flexed their attacking muscles, Liverpool knew they could rely on their own lust for goals to turn a potentially awkward contest into another celebration.

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Crystal Palace contributed to a captivating encounter, twice pegging back Liverpool as they endeavoured to contain the surges from the away team, with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino showcasing bewitching skills but Jurgen Klopp's team were in one of those moods where they ooze goals. There could have been many more. As it was, the selection included a team goal based on slick passing, two set-pieces and a sumptuous lob as Liverpool extended their dazzling run, picking up their sixth win from their last seven Premier League games. Klopp needs to sort out the defensive wobbles, but his side have verve to burn.

James McArthur of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring his team's second goal. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
James McArthur of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring his team's second goal. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

The first goal of helter-skelter match, came in the 16th minute when Coutinho's scooped pass fell to Alberto Moreno, who hooked the ball back across goal. Emre Can arrived unmarked and his shot ricocheted into the net.

Dejan Lovren then gifted Palace an equaliser with a horribly undercooked back pass. A route move caused Liverpool's central defensive pairing to lose their composure. Steve Mandanda's hoiked goal-kick was flicked on by Christian Benteke, but it should not have been impossible for Matip and Lovren to handle. As it was, they fumbled, and James McArthur was on hand to score with a clever header, nudging the ball instinctively over the onrushing Loris Karius.

The game rained goals in a stormy five-minute spell, with Lovren making amends by leaping above Scott Dann at a corner to power home a header.

Liverpool's threat bubbled constantly. The thirst for goals throughout the team is obvious and there could have been more as Firmino's attempt was blocked by Joel Ward, Moreno zipped into a dangerous position and struck a post, and Sadio Mane scooped over with a free shot.

Roberto Firmino of Liverpool scores his team's fourth goal. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
Roberto Firmino of Liverpool scores his team's fourth goal. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

In the spirit of the goal glut, Palace responded. Benteke glanced the ball to Wilfried Zaha, whose inviting cross was met by McArthur, nipping ahead of Lovren to steer in another equaliser.

Yet another header looked goalbound, this time from Coutinho, only for Mandanda to scramble the ball superbly on to the frame of the goal.

It came as no surprise when Liverpool duly did the deed again. Just before half-time Coutinho delivered a corner for Matip to meet with full power. Mandanda attempted to save it but could not keep it out.

Palace came back after the restart intent on coming back into it again. Benteke twice took aim early in the second half. A fierce, swivelling volley and then a looping header required Karius to intervene. Moments later a sweet interchange with Yohan Cabaye released Benteke into a shooting position once more, and Karius was well positioned to deal with the danger.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane

There was always that threat of the counterattack, and Liverpool came close when Mandanda jutted out a leg to deflect Mane's drilled shot.

Back came Palace. Zaha appealed for a penalty as he tried to dance into the box, but with nothing doing he got back up and carried on, pushing the ball on for Benteke and Cabaye to try to test Karius. Zaha looked even more plaintively towards Marriner with 20 minutes to go as he felt contact from Can as he drove into the box.

The game swung suddenly, brilliantly, down to the other end. Jordan Henderson spotted Firmino's run and found him with a superb forward pass. The Brazilian lobbed Mandanda with beautiful precision. The shirt-twirling celebration was worth it.

Observer

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