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    Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool Match Report


    Mohamed Salah's 37th goal of the season helped Liverpool to earn a late victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday in a controversial encounter at Selhurst Park.

    The Reds fell behind early on when Luka Milivojevic converted a 13th-minute penalty before they mounted a successful recovery to claim all three points, with Sadio Mane's equaliser setting up an exciting finale.

    Despite Liverpool's impressive second-half performance, the victory was also aided by two costly misses from Christian Benteke and referee Neil Swarbrick's failure to show a red card to Mane.

    Swarbrick was first called into action inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour when Wilfried Zaha found himself one-on-one with Loris Karius, who clattered into the Ivory Coast international after he had struck the ball wide of the post.

    Serbian international Milivojevic coolly slotted the resulting penalty into the bottom-corner to score his ninth goal of the campaign, with Karius unable to make amends for his error by diving the wrong way.

    Both teams had other opportunities throughout the opening 45 minutes, with Palace's best chance in open-play coming when Zaha was denied by a sprawling Karius save from close-range.

    Liverpool could have taken the lead shortly before Palace's opening goal, but Sadio Mane was unable to divert a Virgil van Dijk header on target from close-range when it looked easier to score.

    The game's first moment of controversy came when Mane was booked for diving to win a penalty, with subsequent television replays suggesting that James McArthur did clip the Senegalese winger, albeit the level of contact was minimal.

    Roberto Firmino then went close from a 20-yard strike, which was blocked by former Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, while Mane had a 'goal' ruled-out for offside as he headed home from the resulting corner.

    Despite their inability to break down a resolute Palace defence before the break, it only took the visitors four minutes to equalise at the start of the second-half when Mane slotted James Milner's pinpoint cross past Wayne Hennessey in clinical fashion.

    The Eagles nearly restored their advantage on two occasions, however, as the match headed towards the hour-mark but Christian Benteke missed two glorious chances in the space of a minute.

    The Belgian international side-footed several yards wide after Andros Townsend's cushioned header had presented him with a gilt-edged opportunity, while he also fired over the crossbar, unmarked, from inside the penalty area.

    Another controversial moment then came when Palace were putting the Liverpool defence under increased pressure, with Townsend and Mane both battling for possession on the edge of the visitors' penalty area.

    Mane handled the ball deliberately, believing he had been fouled by Townsend, but referee Swarbrick decided against giving the Liverpool player a second yellow card despite the Palace protestations.

    Patrick van Aanholt was then denied by a full-stretch dive from Karius as he attempted to score from the resulting free-kick, while Mane was substituted for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shortly afterwards.

    It looked like Roy Hodgson's team had done enough to earn a draw against one of the Premier League's most in-form sides, but they were dealt a late sucker-punch with just six minutes of normal time left to play.

    Man-of-the-moment Salah, who was kept relatively quiet throughout the match, fired home his 37th goal of the season following Firmino's deft touch, which had diverted Andrew Robertson's cross into his path.

    The result temporarily elevated Liverpool into second-place, ahead of arch-rivals Manchester United, although The Red Devils responded later in the afternoon by claiming a 2-0 victory over Swansea.

    Jurgen Klopp's side must now switch their focus towards Wednesday's quarter-final tie against Manchester City in the Champions League, with Saturday's Merseyside derby at Everton also firmly in the club's sights.

    Palace, meanwhile, could have climbed as high as 14th in the table had they managed to hold on to their lead against Liverpool, albeit they still remain two points ahead of 18th-place Southampton.

    The Eagles are next in action on Saturday afternoon against mid-table Bournemouth, with all six of their remaining fixtures coming against teams from outside the Premier League's big-six clubs.
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    Item Reviewed: Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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