Match Review: Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool

LFC Fans at Liverpool FC Fan Club Pub in Toronto
  • Some of our regulars at the pub cheering on Liverpool FC

Match Review: Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool

Just wondering if makers of hair colouring products are now gleefully rubbing their hands with anticipation of a surge in sales… which curiously might come from Liverpool supporters.

After Fulham last Sunday, we have again been through another nerve-racking turnaround by Liverpool this weekend. That can only accelerate the natural greying of our hairdos at the beginning of this holiday season when we usually do the utmost to look our very best.

And those thrillers were in addition to the midweek game at Sheffield United which kept us on the edge of our seats, nervously gnawing away our fingernails until Dominik Szoboszlai made it safe with a second goal on the 94th minute.

But now, we can take a deep breath of relief as this win at Crystal Palace has put us on top of the league table after Arsenal were gunned down at Aston Villa.

We all knew it was going to be a hectic December for Liverpool FC in terms of the number of games. From what’s been happening in the first three, the rest of December will also be hectic in terms of getting our pulse racing. For good measure, Man Utd and Arsenal are next at Anfield in the league.

In South London on this yet another ridiculous Saturday early kick-off, the Reds again wrenched out this game from the jaws of defeat with judicious substitutions in the second half making the telling difference.

Sparked by the sending-off of Jordan Ayew, it took more than 75 minutes for the Mentality Monsters to wake up and really grab the bull by the horn.

Until then, it was a rather disjointed performance by the surprisingly sluggish Redmen with cheaply losing possession, sloppy passing and unnecessary fouls.

This was practically the summary of the first half after which we were left wondering if the heavy schedule and injuries had not already taken a toll on the players.

On the other hand, it was great to have Alisson Becker back one week ahead of his scheduled return from injury.

The Brazilian again pulled a couple of match-defining saves which made it possible for Liverpool to depart from Selhurst Park with 3 points in the bag.

On the 27th minute, a seemingly unstoppable Jefferson Larma shot was blocked by our Number 1 onto the upright before Trent Alexander-Arnold hooked it away.

The not so surprising Palace game plan

That was on a swift Palace counterattack which was the home side’s obvious game plan. Under the hugely experienced Roy Hodgson, the Londoners sat back as a very compact 5-4-1 defensive unit and relied mostly on counterattacks for going forward.

Coupled with their physical game, the aim was to frustrate Liverpool into making mistakes from which they would capitalise.

It nearly paid off on the 29th. Wataru Endo was caught in possession by Will Hughes to lay it for Odsonne Edouard who was then brought down by Virgil Van Dijk.

Ref Andy Madley blew penalty and showed yellow to our captain. However, after a very long consultation of the pitch-side monitor (was he in truth watching Canadian James Cameron’s Titanic??), Madley reversed all his decisions and ruled that Hughes had first and foremost fouled Endo.

Narrow escape but it was obvious that the Japanese was struggling to cope with the physical nature of Palace’s game and was substituted by Joe Gomez for the second half.

Gomez at right full back and employing more width on the pitch, would turn into a significant contribution in the final quarter of the match as the Red surge was forging ahead to turn the game around.

Until then Palace took the lead in the most bizarre of circumstances on the 57th when they were awarded a penalty.

VAR prompted the ref to the pitch-side monitor again for a suspected foul by Jarrell Quansah on Jean-Philippe Mateta an inordinate… 1 minute and 45 seconds before.

It was of the utmost ridicule for such a lengthy delay between the suspected foul and the ref going pitch-side.

What would have happened if Liverpool had scored during that interval of 1 minute and 45 seconds?? Would VAR have robbed us of another goal just like at Tottenham 2 months ago?

By the way, if any reminder was needed, the Reds banged in 2 goals in 80 seconds against Fulham last weekend.

Mateta converted the spot kick himself and by the run of play, it did not look good for Liverpool. That is until Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliot came on the 74th and Ayew copped a second yellow one minute later.

Two hundred!!

Now spurred by Liverpool’s numerical superiority, the travelling Red Army raised its voice and it did not take long to bear fruits.

Iboue Konate launched a move down the right wing from which Gomez and Cody Gakpo swiftly combined to switch flank that Michael Olise made a mess in clearing.

Curtis Jones picked up the loose ball and laid it for Mo Salah to finish from around the penalty spot. Although the ball took a deflection against former Red Nathaniel Clyne on the way in, the Egyptian King was still credited with the goal, bringing his tally to a gob smacking 200 in a Liverpool shirt.

This 200th was a massive moment we had the privilege to witness, one full generation after Ian Rush last did the same. Such event does not come more than a few times in your lifetime, so it’s one to relish.

Salah is now part of an extremely exclusive club with only four other fellow members: Rushie, “Sir” Roger Hunt, Gordon Hodgson and of course, the one-of-a-kind Billy Liddell of Liddellpool.

Back on the pitch, it was game on and that meant only one thing. Liverpool would be hounding for the 3 points from now thereon.

If it took the Scouser in our Team to finally seal those points last weekend, this time, they were clinched on the 91st minute by a player with an equally Red Scouse blood type flowing in his veins.

Remember how Harvey Elliot deliberately jumped into the away stand so as to be mobbed by the travelling Kop after he had scored at Wolves last September? So, who better to finally settle the 3 points in this scruffy away game.

A simple setup by Gomez and now double centurion Salah on the right flank saw Elliot evading Mateta, took steadying touches before unleashing a fierce but well placed left footed shot from the edge of the box.

Of course, his natural reaction was again to celebrate by the away stand, yelling “Come on” to the mightily relieved Red Army once more in delirium. That’s what playing for LFC means to him.

Konate, Gomez, CuJo, Gakpo, Elliot. All 5 subs were involved in the goals which provided yet another unbelievable Mentality Monsters turnaround.

Liverpool did not play well but still managed to grab the three points, just like against Fulham and at Sheffield United. Winning ugly is said to be also a hallmark of potential champions. Fingers crossed.

Two potential away banana skins have been navigated this past week with the 6 points on offer fully harvested.

Top of the league table was confirmed a few hours later as Arsenal stumbled at an impressive Villa who also claimed Man City’s scalp in midweek.

All Reds are looking forward to the holiday season which will hopefully bring more unforgettable celebrations.

In the unlikely event any of our dear friends of the Old Trafford persuasion is reading this, time for them to look away. Mo Salah’s 200th and yet another incredible Liverpool turnaround indeed felt like cherries on the cake.

Mike Chung.