ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Crystal Palace 1
LONDON • Jurgen Klopp admitted that he feared his Liverpool side would not finish their Premier League game against Crystal Palace yesterday with 11 men but said they "deserved" their 2-1 win.
Mohamed Salah completed Liverpool's comeback six minutes from time with his 29th league goal of the season, firing home with his less favoured right foot.
Luka Milivojevic put Palace into a 13th-minute lead from the penalty spot, and the hosts were left to rue their luck as Liverpool duo Loris Karius and Sadio Mane could easily have been sent off.
Mane levelled four minutes after the break before avoiding a second yellow card for deliberately handling the ball on the ground when he thought he had been fouled by Andros Townsend in the 61st minute. Mane was booked in the first half for a theatrical fall after the slightest of contact from James McArthur.
Mohamed Salah has scored in the joint-most Premier League matches in a single 38-game season alongside Robin van Persie (2012-13) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08).
"For me it's a penalty, it's clear. 0.1 seconds too late going down, but it's a penalty," Klopp said. "With contact how can that be a dive? I spoke to the referee at half-time. Around Sadio, there were a few strange situations today and he had to go through 80 minutes of being whistled.
"It was not a Sadio Mane day today. I thought he would be sent off for handling the ball. I did not understand it but happy he didn't."
Despite a huge Champions League quarter-final, first leg with Manchester City looming at Anfield on Wednesday, Klopp named his strongest side. And the German could have some concerns ahead of the European encounter as Palace exposed Liverpool's defensive deficiencies on a number of occasions.
Karius was caught out by Wilfried Zaha's speed in the 12th minute, when the winger flicked the ball goalwards before being cleaned out by the German.
Referee Kevin Friend awarded the penalty and deliberated before showing Karius just a yellow card.
Milivojevic converted his seventh penalty from eight in the Premier League this season - more than any other player.
After Mane's equaliser, former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke had two chances within a minute to restore Palace's lead in the second half. But he sent an attempted lob well wide with just Karius to beat and then shot over the bar after Virgil van Dijk had been caught in possession by Townsend.
Benteke has now missed a league-high 20 big chances in this season, reported the BBC.
"It makes it more special at the end," Klopp said of coming from behind to win. " (The victory) was deserved."
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson agreed that the Reds had to dig in to get the result that took them to 66 points after 32 games.
"It was a big result," he said. "We were not at our best, but we kept going and fighting.
"We grinded out the result and that gives us momentum for the game on Wednesday."
A third straight home defeat for Palace leaves Roy Hodgson's men just two points above the drop zone, having played one game more than Southampton in 18th.