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Match Reports

Report: Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

20 August 2018

10-man Palace tasted defeat in their first home Premier League game of the campaign as Liverpool netted late in both halves to leave south London with all the points.

Roy Hodgson’s team held firm in the face of the rampant Reds’ strikeforce for almost the whole of the first half, but a controversial penalty award allowed James Milner to tuck home from 12 yards to completely change the completion of the game.

The Eagles then had Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off for bringing down Mohamed Salah en-route to goal, but as they pressed to gain a last-gasp point against the odds, Sadio Mane finished off a swift counter-attack to net his customary goal against the side from SE25.

The opening 20 minutes saw Palace hold their own against the Reds, who enjoyed the majority of the play but couldn’t find a way to trouble Wayne Hennessey until Mane shouldercharged him in the air to illegally bundle the ball into the net.

However Jurgen Klopp’s team quickly showed their cutting edge when a wonderful raking pass by Naby Keita set Mohamed Salah racing towards the posts, aided by a majestic touch to bring the ball into his stride, but the revelation of last season lobbed it into the Holmesdale.

Then moments later, the Eagles nearly netted an early Goal of the Season contender from out of nowhere. Christian Benteke picked up a loose pass and found Andros Townsend towards the right who drifted inside, and the winger rifled a bullet of a shot goalwards which left Alisson grasping thin air but the ball cracked off the crossbar, with Wilfried Zaha’s follow-up blocked by an oblivious Trent Alexander-Arnold.

That would be Hodgson’s team’s only real threatening moment of the half, but they seemed destined to go in at the break deservedly level after Hennessey was equal to a Keita effort as the summer signing tried to beat the Welshman at his near post, but that was before controversy struck.

A minute before half-time, the ball found its way to Salah inside the area with Mamadou Sakho keeping tabs on him in close proximity. The Frenchman had a couple of clean stabs at the ball before the Egyptian went down in the box, and Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. It was a soft award, but Milner made no mistake from 12 yards to send the visitors in at the break ahead.

They nearly doubled it three minutes into the second half when Andrew Robertson surged down the left and fed a perfect pass across the box for Salah who managed to get around Hennessey but couldn’t tuck the chance away, instead teeing up Mane who spurned a good chance.

Despite that brief flurry, Palace were more creative in the second half and Milivojevic bent a free-kick goalwards that Alisson managed to parry at just the last moment, Patrick van Aanholt blasted over from the corner of the box and Zaha fired straight at Alisson as the hosts built up a head of steam.

However with 15 minutes to go, an uphill task became a mountain to climb. A deft pass by Roberto Firmino and another great touch by Salah allowed him race clear of the Eagles defence, but Wan-Bissaka did his best to catch him and prevent him making it 2-0, but his challenge clipped the attacker’s heels and he received Palace’s first red card since February 2016.

The resulting free-kick came to nothing which allowed Palace to remain in the game, but with the numerical advantage Reds sensed blood in the water and Hennessey was forced to save from Mane and Salah as Klopp’s team piled on the pressure, but there was a glimmer of a chance for the men in red and blue when debutant Max Meyer nearly managed to steer home a cross from the right but the ball evaded him by fractions as it whizzed across the area.

But in stoppage-time, once final push saw Palace win a corner which wasn’t capitalised on, and when faced with a two-on-two chance Salah slipped in Mane who rounded Hennessey to net his sixth goal in eight appearances against his favourite opponents, and sealed the win for the Merseysiders.

Palace: Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Townsend (Ward 79), Milivojevic, McArthur, Schlupp (Meyer 83), Zaha, Benteke (Sørloth 70). Subs: Guaita, Kelly, Kouyaté, Ayew.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Milner (Henderson 67), Wijnaldum, Keita (Lallana 87), Mane, Salah, Firmino (Sturridge 90). Subs: Mignolet, Moreno, Matip, Shaqiri.

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