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Super Salah to the rescue once again

Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool's winner at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool's winner at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

Sachin Nakrani

It was a frantic contest and one of huge satisfaction for Liverpool as they recovered from going 1-0 down to secure a victory that shores up their place in the top four and provides ideal preparation for Wednesday's Champions League contest with Manchester City.

To no great surprise, it was Mohamed Salah who struck Liverpool's late winner that took his tally to 39 goals in what continues to be a remarkable season. But this triumph displayed their capacity to carve out a win even when they are not playing well and will only deepen Palace's sense of regret after they had taken the lead through Luka Milivojevic's 13th-minute penalty.

Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fends off Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fends off Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend. Photo: Reuters

The hosts had further chances to score and will also reflect on the moment in the second half when Sadio Mané should have been sent off for two bookable offences. It was the Senegal striker who had equalised for Jürgen Klopp's side shortly after half-time.

Injuries forced Roy Hodgson and Klopp to both make two changes to their line-ups, yet ultimately there was overriding relief for the former given Wilfried Zaha was deemed fit enough to start having struggled with a knee complaint.

Back in his familiar wide-left role, the 25-year-old terrorised Liverpool's defence, and Trent Alexander-Arnold in particular. Zaha got the better of the right-back - who was playing due to the injury Joe Gomez collected in England's 1-0 win against the Netherlands - as early as the eighth minute and would have scored were it not for an excellent block by Loris Karius.

The Liverpool goalkeeper undid his good work soon after, however, when he charged forward and wiped out Zaha as he ran on to Christian Benteke's flick on. The referee, Neil Swarbrick, pointed to the spot and Milivojevic did the rest, drilling a low shot into the corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

Crystal Palace's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Liverpool's James Milner rise for the ball. Photo: Reuters
Crystal Palace's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Liverpool's James Milner rise for the ball. Photo: Reuters

Prior to that, Mané almost scored for Liverpool with a close-range header and the Senegal forward thought he had contributed to the visitors getting back into this game on 23 minutes when he went down under a challenge inside the area from James McArthur. Swarbrick paused and appeared set to award another penalty only to instead book Mané for simulation. That initially seemed the wrong call before replays showed the player had fallen under minimum contact.

Four minutes after the interval, Liverpool were level. Patient build-up play eventually resulted in James Milner sweeping a left-sided cross into the area from which Mané scored with a side-footed finish. It was the forward's 15th goal of the season and not the last time he would play a prominent role in proceedings.

Less than 20 minutes later came the moment the 25-year-old was lucky not to see red after falling to the ground under minimal contact from Andros Townsend just outside Liverpool's area. As he hit the deck, Mané grabbed the ball in expectation of being given a free-kick; instead, Swarbrick awarded Palace the set-piece for handball. His next move should have been to show Mané a second yellow card. But it did not come and neither did Palace score from the free-kick.

Prior to that Benteke had failed to score against his former side with two hugely presentable chances and while a source of huge frustration for the majority of attendance here, it did sum up Palace's encouraging response to conceding. They were positive, aggressive and on the front foot. In contrast, Liverpool look rattled. Dejan Lovren came on and the visitors shifted to a 3-5-2 formation. Soon after they were ahead.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino chases down Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino chases down Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool's Loris Karius. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool's Loris Karius. Photo: Reuters

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