Football: Liverpool recover from shaky start to beat Palace 4-3

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and Jordan Henderson celebrate at the end of the match.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and Jordan Henderson celebrate at the end of the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

LIVERPOOL, England (REUTERS) - Premier League leaders Liverpool recovered from a poor first-half display as they came from behind to beat an impressive Crystal Palace 4-3 in an enthralling clash at Anfield on Saturday (Jan 19).

The win, secured by late goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, moves Juergen Klopp's side a provisional seven points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who face bottom club Huddersfield Town on Sunday.

Palace won at City last month and at times looked as though they could produce another upset but while this was far from vintage Liverpool their prolific strikers helped them avoid a slip-up.

Trailing 1-0 at the break, two Liverpool goals inside the opening eight minutes of the second half changed the momentum of the match.

"The result is massive, we have 60 points now, it's crazy, it's an important number," said Klopp.

"I'm really proud, a few things happened that we don't really need, we're a bit short now on players but we have a few days and need to use the time now for recovery."

Palace, the last team to win at Anfield in the league back in April, 2017, took a shock 34th minute lead, against the run of play, when Andros Townsend slotted home a fine pull-back from Wilfried Zaha.

Liverpool equalised 47 seconds after the interval when the ball looped high into the area where Salah skilfully converted with the outside of his left foot after Virgil van Dijk's long-range effort was blocked.

LIVERPOOL BUZZING

Suddenly Liverpool were buzzing and it was no surprise when Brazilian Roberto Firmino put them ahead, collecting a pass from Naby Keita and beating veteran Palace keeper Julian Speroni with a slightly deflected low shot.

But the visitors were not about to roll over and they fought back to level at 2-2 in the 65th when James Tomkins was left unattended to head in a Luka Milivojevic corner.

 

Speroni, Palace's 39-year-old third-choice, then gifted Liverpool a goal when his one-handed waft at a harmless-looking James Milner cross fell for Salah to tap in after 75 minutes.

Salah now has 50 goals in his 72 Premier League appearances and is the current top scorer in the league with 16.

Milner was sent off in the 89th for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Zaha before Mane added the fourth for the hosts with a solo strike in stoppage time.

There was still time for Palace to strike again with Max Meyer beating Alisson Becker with a low shot which the Brazilian keeper would have expected to save.

Liverpool's back line then handled some late pressure from Palace to seal the three points.

MASSIVE RELIEF

"It's a massive relief," said Klopp.

"We knew for different reasons the game would be difficult. Crystal Palace traditionally do well against Liverpool and with the physicality it was clear it would be like the first half was.

"We had to stay positive, being one down is not a massive blow, we just needed to win the second half and did what we had to do," he added.

Hodgson, whose side are hovering just above the relegation zone despite excellent performances against some of the top clubs, said he felt a mixture of pride and disappointment.

"I'm very proud of the team. You know they have extremely good players, you know it will be a hard task and it will require a lot of discipline and we did well to come back to 2-2 and 4-3 at the end after conceding a very unfair goal.

"You need character and personality and good team spirit, people prepared to stick to the game plan even when it's not going your way.

"We knew if we deviated from the plan we could find it very difficult but we stuck to our way of playing and really I should be stood here congratulating the lads on getting something out if it," added the former Liverpool and England manager."