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Match Reports

Report: Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool

31 March 2018

For the third game in succession at Selhurst Park, Palace were the victims of late drama as Mohamed Salah popped up six minutes from time to complete a 2-1 comeback win for Liverpool.

The Eagles had taken an early lead when Luka Milivojevic fired home a penalty on 13 minutes, but after keeping the Reds at bay for the remainder of the first half, Sadio Mane was the scourge of Palace again as he equalised four minutes after the restart.

However after Christian Benteke fired two big opportunities off-target and Mane escaped a second yellow card for a deliberate handball, Salah – who had been quiet all afternoon – was in the right place to fire home the winner from close range and once again deny Roy Hodgson’s team at the death.

An encouraging start saw the opening chance fall to the Eagles after eight minutes when Wilfried Zaha chased a long ball and got behind Trent Alexander-Arnold to create a shooting chance, but the on-rushing Loris Karius managed to deflect it away with his chest, however there was soon a scare at the other end when Virgil van Dijk headed a corner goalwards which Mane, in an effort to divert its course and deceive Wayne Hennessey, could only nudge it off target.

But on 11 minutes another burst forward by Zaha would lead to the deadlock being broken. The winger raced onto a Benteke flick-on and managed to prod the ball past Karius before being clattered by the keeper. Neil Swarbrick had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, allowing Milivojevic to send Karius the wrong way and score his seventh penalty of the campaign.

After finding themselves behind, Liverpool began to work through the gears and would go on to dominate possession for the rest of the half, and chances soon began to fall their way. Some neat build up allowed Salah to shoot straight at Hennessey, and after Roberto Firmino got on the end of a corner Mane nodded the ball into the net from three yards out, but was rightly flagged offside.

The pressure continued as half-time drew closer and after Salah curled another shot goalwards which Hennessey was equal to, the Egyptian whipped a corner into the box which Mane headed towards the bottom corner but the Welshman, on the occasion of his 100th Palace appearance, showed great reactions to drop to his right and flick the ball away from his goalline.

But having escaped into the changing rooms with their lead still intact, it took just four minutes after the restart for Palace’s lead to slip away when Mane came back to haunt them again. Firmino was allowed too much time to get the ball under control in the area, and laid it off to James Milner who fizzed in a low centre, and the Senegalese attacker managed to nip in ahead of Mamadou Sakho and steer it past Hennessey to score his fifth goal in his last six matches against the Eagles.

There had been little Palace threat on the Reds goal since they had taken the lead, but that all changed when two huge chances arrived in the space of two minutes. Firstly, Andros Townsend nodded the ball into Benteke’s path, allowing the striker a clean route to goal but his attempted lob over Karius dropped well wide of the post, and then 60 seconds later Townsend cut inside from the right and teed up the striker again, but this time he could only fire the ball over the bar from the edge of the box.

Despite seeing two great chances squandered, Palace’s tails were up and there was a flashpoint on the hour mark when Mane, who had already been booked for diving, grabbed the ball appealing for a free-kick during a tussle with Yohan Cabaye, and was inexplicably not shown a second yellow card despite Swarbrick agreed it had been an act of deliberate handball. Patrick van Aanholt took the resulting free-kick, and forced Karius into a flying save as the German push a rocket over his crossbar.

But with six minutes to go, the visitors would find a way to grab the win. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain probed down the right and his cross found Andrew Robertson on the opposite flank, and he first-time put it back across the area to Salah, who lashed the ball into the bottom corner to net his 29th Premier League goal of the campaign and snatch the points for the Merseysiders.

Palace: Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka (Fosu-Mensah 88), Kelly, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Cabaye (Loftus-Cheek 73), Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend, Zaha, Benteke. Subs not used: Cavalieri, Souare, Delaney, Riedewald, Lee.

Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum (Lallana 64, Lovren 70), Firmino, Mane (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64), Salah. Subs not used: Mignolet, Clyne, Moreno, Lovren, Ings.

For more post-match reaction, head to Palace TV on the club’s official app.

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