Don Kopleone rates the Reds as they took the three points despite doing their best at times to help the Eagles soar.
There might not be a more overused football cliché than “it was a game of two halves”. But it is a pretty accurate one for how this game went.
After Liverpool dominated the opening exchanges of their encounter at Selhurst Park, taking a 2-0 lead, things took a disappointing turn as Crystal Palace looked far more dangerous after the interval.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had added to an early Virgil van Dijk header to give the away side a degree of first-half comfort. But Odsonne Edouard’s 55th minute tap-in had felt long overdue for the hosts.
Honestly, the Palace fightback actually started a few minutes before the break, and it felt as though Patrick Vieira’s team would find an equaliser as the second-half ticked on.
But when Vicente Guaita felled Diogo Jota, VAR sent Kevin Friend to review his original decision and the referee awarded a penalty. Fabinho stepped up and sealed the points.
An underwhelming performance – save for a dazzling first 30 minutes – but an important win to capitalise on Manchester City’s dropped points yesterday.
The one excuse that Liverpool may have would be that the collapse came after a semi-final second-leg just three days ago.
Your ratings, as Jürgen Klopp’s side yet again made heavy work of a trip to London:
Ali 9 – Won Liverpool the game with at least three wonder saves, simple as. An easy pick for man of the match.
Trent 6.5 – Defensively very impressive for 45 minutes. All over the place for much of the second half, though, until one of the passes of the season led to the penalty award.
Joel 6 – His soft header was at the centre of the build up to the Edouard goal, just as a first-half unforced giveaway sparked problems. This all after a superb first half an hour.
Big Virg 7.5 – Smashed home a header after seven minutes. Passing was impressive and the Dutchman was the most assured member of a shaky back line after half-time. Might have been more aware of the movement in behind him for the Palace goal.
Robbo 7.5 – High-quality deliveries for goals one and two. Back to his creative best after a shoddy spell earlier in the season.
Hendo 5.5 – A decent, tidy first half, with a testing volleyed effort early on. Sadly, it was an abysmal second half from the Reds’ captain, and he failed to sweep up the under-hit Matip header that led to the Edouard goal. Looked tired.
Fabs 6.5 – Another who looked shattered as the game progressed. Came up with a composed penalty to kill the game, however.
CJ 6.5 – One half of Curtis Jones at his best – calm and quality on the ball, finding pockets of space – before one which highlighted his naivety, with the youngster contributing nothing as the going got tough and he started to vacate defensive areas too willingly.
Ox 7 – A good finish to make it 2-0. Unfortunate to be the first substituted, despite a fairly anonymous start to the second-half.
Bobby 5.5 – Half an hour of Brazilian brilliance, with the Reds’ number nine at the heart of the second goal. Began to capitulate before half-time, and continued to offer nothing positive after the break.
Di-no-goal 6 – Not at his clinical best, but always keeps teams second-guessing with his work rate and intelligence of movement, which came together for the crucial penalty.
Taki 6 – Minimal involvement. Did arguably solidify things a little, though.
Milly 6.5 – Less concerned to see the veteran brought on as a defensive winger than in the heart of midfield.
JoGo 7 – Three decent defensive interventions in his six minutes of added time on the pitch.
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