Sadio Mane was the scourge of Palace again as he netted the only goal of the game to hand Liverpool a slender victory against the Eagles at Anfield.
The Senegalese attacker capitalised on a mistake in defence to score the game’s only goal with 17 minutes to play, registering his fourth goal in six Premier League outings against the red and blue, who are still awaiting their first points of the campaign.
However, Frank de Boer will have been pleased with his side’s efforts who battled valiantly to keep Liverpool at bay, and had huge chances of their own to take the lead before Mane popped up with the all-important opener.
Much had been made of the Reds’ frailties at set-pieces in the build-up to this encounter, and after eight minutes the Eagles had their first opportunity to put them under pressure when Jason Puncheon whipped a free-kick into the area and James Tomkins met it with his head, however the ball flashed over the top of the bar.
That woke the hosts out of their early slumber and James Milner curled a shot straight at Wayne Hennessey before the Welshman received a huge let-off when he came to deal with a cross from debutant Andrew Robertson but missed, however Joe Gomez got his header all wrong and sent a golden chance wide.
Following that scare De Boer’s team settled and the game became an even affair, and that was shown in a breathtaking passage of play five minutes before the break when either side could have taken the lead.
It began when Roberto Firmino hammered a blast goalwards from 25 yards which Hennessey managed to beat away, and a good interception by Timothy Fosu-Mensah created a counter-attack involving Andros Townsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The latter fed an unmarked Puncheon inside the box, but the captain saw his first-time drive also swatted away by Simon Mignolet.
That was the highlight of a good opening 45 minutes for Palace, and they had to weather another Liverpool storm early in the second half when Milner bent a free-kick into the Kop, and then Hennessey managed to scramble down to his bottom corner to claw away a Georginio Wijnaldum attempt, but the Eagles continued to show their threat by carving out their best opportunity a minute later.
Fosu-Mensah played a long ball over the top for the impressive Loftus-Cheek to chase, and he galloped to the byline to cut the ball back perfectly for Christian Benteke seven yards out, but he couldn’t haunt his former side for the second season in a row as he blazed over Mignolet’s bar and a massive opportunity went begging.
The match was becoming a much less cagey affair and Hennessey had to make a similar low save to prevent Jordan Henderson opening the scoring, and then the visitors survived a goalmouth scramble which ended with Mane shooting straight at the Palace stopper, however the pressure finally told on 73 minutes.
Mane collected the ball on the left and found Robertson who attempted a one-two but it was intercepted by Luka Milivojevic. Trying to get the ball under control, the Serbian could only stumble into a 50/50 challenge with Dominic Solanke, and the Reds got the luck of the bounce, allowing Mane to slide the loose ball past Hennessey.
Jurgen Klopp’s team had plenty of chances to double their lead late on, including a Mo Salah header, and a Solanke low effort which were saved by Hennessey, and then the keeper made two of his best stops of the afternoon when he dived full stretch to push away attempts by Robertson and Salah again, but his fine display was in vain as Liverpool claimed a narrow victory.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Klavan, Matip, Robertson, Wijnaldum (Solanke 71), Henderson, Milner, Mane, Firmino (Lovren 90), Sturridge (Salah 61). Subs not used: Karius, Flanagan, Can, Origi.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Dann, Fosu-Mensah, Van Aanholt (Schlupp 84), Loftus-Cheek, Puncheon (McArthur 73), Milivojevic (Kaikai 77), Townsend, Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Cabaye, Lokilo.