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15:54 6th March 2016

A controversial penalty by Christian Benteke in the final minute of stoppage time snatched an undeserved victory for Liverpool after Palace had put in a fine performance at Selhurst Park.

The Belgian striker went down in the box in the match’s final action under pressure from Damien Delaney, although replays suggested that there was minimal contact between the two. However Andre Marriner pointed to the spot after consulting with his linesman, and Benteke dispatched the penalty to condemn Palace to defeat.  

Things had looked rosy for the hosts when Joe Ledley’s goal three minutes after half-time gave Alan Pardew’s side the lead and they received another fillip when James Milner was sent off soon after, however a slip by Alex McCarthy gifted Roberto Firmino the chance to equalise before the last-gasp winner for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Palace started with a front two of Yannick Bolasie and Emmanuel Adebayor who linked up impressively in the opening 10 minutes. Firstly the Togolese striker played in Bolasie who saw his effort smothered by Simon Mignolet, and then Adebayor forced the Reds keeper into a good one-handed stop with a shot from just inside the box.

After that was cleared for a Palace throw-in, he battled with Dejan Lovren for the ball on the byline and forced the Croat to hoof it straight to Pape Souare. The left-back took a touch before crossing for Adebayor who nodded against the crossbar with Mignolet beaten.

It was all Palace in the first 25 minutes and Yohan Cabaye saw a first-time attempt from outside the area ripple the side-netting when he was picked out by Wilfried Zaha but the Reds showed some menace soon after when Divock Origi went for a curler into the top corner which flashed over McCarthy’s bar.

Milner then had a free-kick in a dangerous position which deflected off Bolasie and spun goalwards but thankfully from an Eagles perspective off-target as a strong 45 minutes from the home side drew to a close.

But three minutes after the restart the pressure told as Pardew’s team went ahead. A corner was swung into the area and came out to Souare who drilled the ball goalwards but saw it blocked, then after Scott Dann saw a second effort come off a Liverpool defender, from the edge of the area Ledley drilled the rebound low into the bottom corner to score against the Reds at Selhurst for the second consecutive season.

Then just after the hour mark, Palace were given a massive boost when the visitors were reduced to 10 men. With seemingly very little danger on in their own half, Milner – who’d been booked in the first-half for a foul on Cabaye - clumsily brought down Bolasie and was shown a second yellow card and sent back to the dressing room by Marriner with no complaints.

Despite the disadvantage only a last-ditch interception by Delaney prevented Adam Lallana’s cut-back from being finished off by Origi, but on 71 minutes the Reds were handed a way back into the game. Ledley played a routine backpass to McCarthy who slipped when he attempted to clear the ball and it fell perfectly for Firmino to slide past the unfortunate goalkeeper.

The chances continued to be created by Klopp’s side and Benteke almost scored with his first touch when he steered a corner on target by McCarthy was equal to it, and then with three minutes remaining Alberto Moreno saw a drive from 30 yards clatter off the inside of the post and away from danger as Palace breathed a sigh of relief.

However in the final seconds of the encounter Benteke chased a ball into the area and was followed by Delaney, and after the sliding defender’s knee touched his foot the striker won a penalty. He then coolly sent McCarthy the wrong way from 12 yards to once again ensure Palace suffered last-gasp heartache for the second time in five days and extended their winless run in the league to 12 games.

Palace: McCarthy, Ward, Delaney, Dann, Souare, Zaha, Cabaye (Mutch 70), Jedinak, Ledley (Sako 81), Bolasie, Adebayor (Gayle 81). Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Lee, Chamakh.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan (Coutinho 61), Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Milner, Lallana, Firmino (Toure 88), Origi (Benteke 80). Subs not used: Ward, Clyne, Allen, Sturridge.