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Match Reports

Report: Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace

23 April 2017

Christian Benteke came back to haunt his former club by scoring both of his side’s goals as Palace claimed a third straight victory at Anfield to get to within touching distance of Premier League safety.

Another fantastic performance by Sam Allardyce’s side was secured thanks to the Belgian hitman, who continued his prolific form by netting in both halves to get on the scoresheet for the fifth time in his last five outings and extend the Eagles’ unbeaten run on Merseyside to seven matches.

That run had looked in jeopardy when Palace found themselves behind thanks to Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick, but just before half-time Benteke grabbed a crucial leveller when he tucked home a fine Yohan Cabaye delivery, before completing his brace from a corner to put Palace two points away from the magical 40-point mark.

The opening 20 minutes saw Liverpool pen their visitors inside their own half for long periods, but some competent, confident defending as well as a couple of crucial blocks meant that Wayne Hennessey was a spectator during the early stages, and indeed the first chance of note went to the Eagles midway the first half when Benteke came so close to netting against his former club when he cut inside past a couple of defenders and took aim but was a whisker away from finding the far corner.

However just two minutes later, the opening goal did arrive but it came for the hosts. Having won a free-kick after being fouled by Luka Milivojevic, Coutinho stepped up and the Brazilian curled a 25-yarder over the Eagles wall and into the net, leaving Hennessey scrambling across the line in vain as he celebrated his 10th of the campaign.

The pressure continued from Jurgen Klopp’s team and after some fine inter-play between James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum carved out a chance for Emre Can, Palace were thankful that the German midfielder got his feet in a muddle and spooned a great chance well wide, but the Eagles a much more clinical touch in front of goal soon as they grabbed the equaliser four minutes before the break.

A sweeping move saw James Tomkins switch the ball out to Joel Ward on the right flank, and he played an exceptional pass down the line that allowed Yohan Cabaye to scamper past a static Dejan Lovren. The Frenchman swept the ball first-time into the perfect spot for Benteke to race onto, and he side-footed into the roof of the net to score for the fourth time in his last three appearances as an opposition player at Anfield – which would be added to later in the afternoon.

Palace’s top scorer then nearly doubled his tally on the stroke of half-time when he controlled a cross on his chest and hooked the ball goalwards but it was straight at Simon Mignolet as Palace ended the half on top.

The second half mirrored the start of the previous one in that Liverpool enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and terriroty, but this time they were also caving out chances. Virtually all of the threat was coming through Coutinho and after he skied into the Kop he then wriggled his way past three Palace defenders inside the area before being denied by a brave Tomkins block, and then saw a header from a fine Nathaniel Clyne delivery strike Divock Origi six yards from goal but Palace counted themselves lucky that it deflected towards a grateful Hennessey.

The hosts continued to push and Robert Firmino flashed a fizzer wide of the far post, but once again Allardyce’s side looked threatening on their rare forages forward and could so easily have grabbed the lead when a scramble inside the area littered with poor clearances saw the ball fall at Cabaye’s feet six yards out but with a split-second to get his shot away, the Frenchman blasted over.

But on 73 minutes the turnaround was complete. Having won a corner on the right, Andros Townsend sent it towards the front post where it deflected off Firmino, and Benteke stooped to head it into the net from close range to score his 16th goal of the season and make Klopp wish he had kept him in a Red shirt.

With the game in its dying stages, Benteke was withdrawn with a couple of minutes to go to warm applause from his former fans as well as the Eagles supporters gathered in the away end, who had to endure six minutes of stoppage-time that saw Alalrdyce’s men put in one last push to claim their fifth win from six games and put them on the brink of safety after another mammoth result.

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