Liverpool left it late once again as they beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park. Roberto Firmino was the man who got the winner after goals from Sadio Mané and Wilfried Zaha had the scores level.
It was a tough afternoon for Liverpool, who struggled to break down Roy Hodgson’s side within the first half. The second half was much better from the Reds but they still didn’t seem at their best as a collective. However, one man was — Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutchman was his usual self at the back. He was calm and powerful in his defensive situations. He won five out of his eight aerial duels and also won two out of three ground duels.
The No.4 completed one interception and won his only attempted tackle. Van Dijk cleared the ball away ten times at Selhurst Park — the most by any player on the pitch. He was unlucky to lose his clean sheet but overall he was outstanding defensively.
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Van Dijk’s distribution was excellent in south London. He ended the game with a 93% passing accuracy and completed seven out of 11 attempted long balls.
The defender also played a hand in the winner, albeit unconventionally. It was his shot that lead to the scramble in the Eagles’ box. The ball — after a failed clearance by the Palace defenders — found its way out to Roberto Firmino who scored for his side.
Even when Liverpool are not on par with the level of standard we expect of them, Virgil van Dijk is. It seems that the former Southampton man rarely lets his performance levels drop. The game on Saturday afternoon was just another example of why he is the best around.