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    Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace Match Report


    Crystal Palace inflicted a first defeat on Jurgen Klopp in his seventh match as Liverpool manager, with goals by Yannick Bolasie and Scott Dann proving the difference in an absorbing encounter. It was a famous victory for the visitors, their third consecutive league win over The Reds, and yet another indication of how far Alan Pardew's team have come in the 10 months since he was appointed manager.

    Although Liverpool never reached the heights of their 3-1 over Chelsea eight days earlier, it was a defeat that said much more about Palace's brave and spirited performance than it did about any Liverpool shortcomings. The Eagles proved once again how dangerous they can be against the big teams, especially away from home, with Wilfried Zaha and Bolasie in particular impressive in the manor in which they cut open the Liverpool defence throughout the match.

    The match was finely poised throughout the second half, with both teams creating chances after Liverpool had equalized three minutes before half-time through Philippe Coutinho. It was the away side that came away with all three points, however, when Scott Dann headed home Yoyan Cabaye's corner at the second attempt to stun Anfield. The win was Palace's tenth in their last 14 away matches, and continues their excellent record against Liverpool since returning to the Premier League in 2013.


    Liverpool came into the match with Christian Benteke starting in the league for the first time in seven weeks, replacing Roberto Firmino and playing as a recognized centre-forward, which the home side have been lacking in recent weeks. Jordan Ibe replaced James Milner in a very attacking Liverpool line-up, with Adam Lallana playing off Benteke in the centre of a three-man support cast, which included Ibe and Philippe Coutinho.

    It was Palace, however, who began the match on the front foot and took the lead after 21 minutes through Yannick Bolasie, a man who was rumoured to be a transfer target of Liverpool in the summer. Wilfried Zaha provided the outlet on the right-wing, teasing Sakho and finding Bolasie after Emre Can's clearance had sent the ball in his path. The Congolese forward managed to find space in front of six Liverpool defenders in a crowded penalty area and ferociously drilled a left-footed effort past the dive of Simon Mignolet.

    The errors that Liverpool appeared to have cut out in recent week since Klopp's arrival were in full evidence again, with Alberto Moreno and Emre Can the most culpable. The duo twice missed the opportunity to clear the ball before Palace took the lead. Moreno's clearance had been intercepted by Bakary Sako in the build-up to the goal, with the Malian international feeding Zaha on the right-wing. Can then had the opportunity to clear Zaha's subsequent cross, but could only find Bolasie, who ruthlessly punished the German for his error.



    Liverpool came back into the game as the half progressed, with Benteke forcing Wayne Hennessey into a sprawling save after 28 minutes. The Belgian positioned himself on the penalty spot, beating his teammate Martin Skrtel to the ball before heading Ibe's corner down into the ground but not past the former Wolves stopper. The save was all the more impressive by virtue of the fact that the Welshman's view was obstructed, forcing him to react late to scramble the ball past the post.

    A curious incident developed minutes later, with Mamadou Sakho appearing to land awkwardly, holding his right knee in what looked to be a serious injury. As he hobbled off the pitch, with Dejan Lovren ready to come on, he looked to have shaken off the injury and Lovren was told to return to the Liverpool bench. Sakho then inadvertently presented the ball to Yohan Cabaye, who in turn passed to Bolasie in an offside position. It was a touch fortunate for Liverpool as Sako expertly curled the ball past Mignolet from Bolasie's pass, only for the home side's blushes to be spared by the flag of the referee's assistant. Sakho only lasted another two minutes before being replaced by Lovren.

    Just as it appeared that Palace would head into half-time with a 1-0 lead, Liverpool produced the moment of magic that been eluding them throughout the first half. Ibe's pass found Nathaniel Clyne on the right-wing, with the former Southampton man delivering a low-weighted cross that eventually found its way to Coutinho. The Brazilian made no mistake in coolly slotting right-footed past Hennessey from eight yards, beating the goalkeeper with the pace on the ball to bring his side level at such a key stage of the match.



    Both Lallana and Benteke were instrumental in the goal, with a backheel by Lallana from Clyne's cross taking four Palace defenders out of the game and Benteke using himself as a decoy to create space for Coutinho, who made no mistake with the finish. The goal was met by a clinched fist by their manager, whose enthusiasm had not been dampened by the downpour that brought an almost comical impact on proceedings with the skies around Anfield opening up as the match headed towards half-time. Klopp's side could even have led going into the break, with Lovren coming close with a header from Coutinho's corner, but it fell safely into the hands of Hennessey.

    Liverpool began the second-half in the manor in which they ended the first, with Christian Benteke playing a one-two with Adam Lallana before blazing over left-footed from nine yards. The Belgian was perhaps guilty of not getting his shot away a fraction sooner when the goal opened up for him, but the delay allowed Papa Souare to make a last ditch challenge. It was the home side's most dominant period of the match but they were unable to make it count.

    Despite Liverpool's dominance growing in the match as it headed for the hour mark, Palace still remained a threat on the counter-attack as they had throughout the afternoon. Zaha's pace, in particular, was causing havoc for the home side and after outrunning and outmuscling both Lucas and Coutinho, he crossed to an unmarked Sako, who hit the side netting from seven yards. It was a guilt-edged chance the former Wolves forward, with the ball placed perfectly for him to slot home with his favoured left foot.



    At this stage, the game was heading from end to end, with both teams missing glorious chances to steer the match in their favour. A minute after Sako's miss, Benteke missed an even better chance for his side to take the lead and, like Sako, the chance couldn't have fallen to a more suitable player. Alberto Moreno clipped over a cross that sat up invitingly for a man normally lethal in the air, but he somehow managed to head over the bar from four yards when unchallenged. Had the Belgian opted to head the ball down, he would most certainly have given his side the lead.

    With the match following a similar theme, Jason Puncheon had the game's next chance for Palace. His left-footed effort from over 20 yards tested the dive of Mignolet, but the Liverpool keeper did well to palm the effort away. Then, Roberto Firmino tried his luck for the home side from slightly shorter range, but his right-footed effort was blocked by Scott Dann and the ball headed narrowly wide of Mignolet's right-hand post.

    Just as it appeared that the match was heading for a draw, Liverpool fan Dann provided a sting in the tail that stunned a previously rapturous Anfield crowd into silence. Having been outstanding throughout the contest and denying Liverpool minutes earlier, the centre-half outmuscled both Moreno and Firmino in the air to attack Cabaye's corner from the edge of the six-yard box. His initial header was well saved by Mignolet but was palmed straight back to the Palace defender, who made no mistake at the second time of asking as he powered a header into the top left hand corner.


    It was a reward for the brave nature of performance by the away side, who caused all sorts of problems to the Liverpool defence throughout the afternoon and had already created enough opportunities to win the game. They had weathered, both in a metaphorical and literal sense, an earlier Liverpool storm and proved once again that they are a team to be feared away from home, especially with their pace, power and strength in wide areas. Even though Liverpool dominated the possession stats, it was the classic away performance. Palace were both resilient and well-organised in defence and deadly on the counter-attack.

    Scott Dann should not only get the plaudits for his winning goal, but for the excellent performance by both him and Damien Delaney in the centre of defence, which frustrated Liverpool throughout the match. Dann can perhaps count himself unfortunate not to have been called into the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Spain and France. If he continues in this vein of form, he could be in contention for a late call-up to the England squad for the European Championships next summer.

    All Liverpool could muster in response to Palace's late strike was a left-footed Coutinho drive from 20 yards out, which had to be tipped over at full-stretch by the impressive Hennessey. As Palace held out for the win, a disappointed Klopp refused to blame tiredness for his side's defeat, despite it being the club's seventh match in 22 days. The German's response to the issue of tiredness was: "you are tired when you think you are tired". If tiredness was a factor in the defeat, then Palace exploited it to perfection and Liverpool were always going to struggle if they were anything less than up to full throttle.



    Despite the defeat, Liverpool played their part in a high-quality encounter, dominating possession and creating chances that on another day could have won them the match. They should take the positives away from this performance and realise they were beaten by a team that executed their gameplan to perfection and are set-up perfectly to play on the counter-attack away from home. Looking at the bigger picture, Liverpool have made huge strides in the last seven matches under Klopp and this first defeat was always going to happen eventually.

    The win moves Palace up to eighth in the table, just five points outside the top four and two points above Liverpool in tenth position. Liverpool return to action after the international break with a tricky away match against Premier League leaders Manchester City on November 21, with Palace entertaining second-bottom Sunderland two days later.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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