LONDON (REUTERS) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Sadio Mane scored an opportunist goal to give them a 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday (Aug 19).
The Senegalese winger took advantage of a mistake by Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic and steered the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the 73rd minute, prompting Klopp to praise the home side’s persistence.
“It was a hard job,” the German told Sky Sports.
“We had moments in the first half but had to be more patient because they were deep.
“(In the) Second half we did it better. We were really awake and defended well and I loved the goal because it was not a clear situation.
“We had other chances but I am completely happy with how we did the job today. Anfield helps a lot, I think today it was the difference.”
Still missing forward Philippe Coutinho through a back injury, after Liverpool reportedly turned down a third offer from Barcelona for the Brazilian playmaker on Friday, the hosts struggled to break down a stubborn Palace.
Wary after conceding three soft goals in their opening day 3-3 draw at Watford, Liverpool were reluctant to take too many risks in a tepid first half devoid of goalmouth action.
The hosts had 72 per cent possession and took 23 shots at goal against Palace’s four. But the visitors missed the best chance of the match shortly after the break as former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke blazed a shot over the bar from six yards out.
With the Anfield faithful roaring them on, Liverpool broke the deadlock when Milivojevic failed to clear the ball and Mane pounced to beat Hennessey, who did well to deny substitutes Dominic Solanke and Mohamed Salah in the closing stages.
Liverpool fielded a revamped back four with left back Andrew Robertson enjoying an impressive Premier League debut, having made several darting runs on his flank while also doing some good defensive work.
“Before the game he (Klopp) said go and play your normal game and there was bit more space down the left than the right in the first half,” said the 23-year old Glaswegian, who joined Liverpool from relegated Hull City during the close season.
“It is brilliant to be here.”