Palace saw their first game of their Premier League Asia Trophy campaign end in defeat as goals from Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi sent Liverpool into the final at the Eagles’ expense.
Frank de Boer’s men impressed during the first 45 minutes and could have taken the lead but Keshi Anderson saw a good chance saved, but with Palace looking to get more match action into their players than their opponents, the fresher legs made their mark in the second half as the Reds netted twice to claim the victory.
The result means that Palace will take on West Bromwich Albion in the third/fourth place play-off on the weekend after the Baggies lost on penalties to Leicester City.
Playing with a 3-4-3 shape, De Boer’s men began well and looked sharp in the opening 10 minutes, but they needed Scott Dann’s vital block to deflect wide a Daniel Sturridge attempt in the box after Trent Alexander-Arnold had centred.
The Reds – although clad in luminous orange – nearly netted a fine opener on 16 minutes when Jordan Henderson clipped a pass into Sturridge, who deftly back-heeded it into the path of the onrushing Adam Lallana but the England midfielder shanked high and wide, and just before the scheduled drinks break due to the warm, humid conditions in Hong Kong, new man Mohamed Salah bent a shot over as Jurgen Klopp’s team continued to probe.
But it would be Simon Mignolet who dirtied his gloves first on 24 minutes when Anderson found Andros Townsend – playing in a right-wing back role – and he threaded the ball back into the striker to take aim, however the Reds stopper was equal to his low effort and a good chance for the Eagles slipped away.
Another opportunity though would quickly arrive but Luka Milivojevic curled a free-kick over the crossbar, but boosted by those attacks De Boer’s side would gain confidence and began to enjoy more of the possession. But the final word of the half would go to their opponents as their attacking talents came to the fore again when Sturridge drifted inside from the left and hit a skidding shot along the greasy surface, but Wayne Hennessey did well to use his 6’7’’ frame to his advantage and palm the ball away from his bottom corner and keep the scoreline goalless at the break.
Liverpool switched all their outfield players within the first five minutes of the restart, but one of their introductions was Philippe Coutinho and he had the half’s first crack on 53 minutes but saw it flash well over Hennessey’s bar, but on the hour mark the deadlock was eventually broken. James Milner fed Origi who played a nice little flick into the path of Solanke, and the new recruit got the ball under control before arrowing a shot into the bottom corner of the net to hand the advantage to the Reds.
With De Boer resisting the opportunity to make vast changes himself, the Eagles inevitably tired as the half went on against the fresh legs and Marko Grujic was next to test his luck but his drive from range was off target, but with 11 minutes to play Liverpool sealed their place in the final by adding a second goal.
Milner found himself edging towards the penalty area and picked out Coutinho who was advancing from midfield. The Brazilian saw his initial shot blocked and then ricochet into the path of Origi, who had the simple task of slotting the ball past Hennessey from a few yards out.
The Palace custodian managed to pull off one final save late on when youngster Ryan Kent took aim from range but the Welshman pushed it around the post, but the result meant that the Baggies will be next up for the Eagles on Saturday.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann (Kelly 77), Delaney, Townsend (Wan-Bissaka 59), Milivojevic (Loftus-Cheek 77), Puncheon (Kirby 77), Schlupp (Van Aanholt 59), Zaha (Phillips 77), Benteke (Ladapo 72), Anderson (Sako 65). Sub not used: Speroni.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold (Flanagan 46), Matip (Lovren 46), Gomez (Klavan 46), Moreno (Milner 46), Henderson (Kent 50), Lallana (Grujic 48), Woodburn (Wijnaldum 48), Salah (Solanke 50), Firmino (Coutinho), Sturridge (Origi 48). Sub not used: Karius, Ward.