Salah turns the tide for Liverpool
Liverpool move up to second place after 2-1 win over Crystal Palace
Liverpool players celebrate Mohamed Salah’s winner at Selhurst Park. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2
Mohamed Salah scored his 37th goal of the season in all competitions as Liverpool came from behind to secure a vital victory at Crystal Palace. Sadio Mane had scored the Reds’ equalising goal before being fortunate to avoid a red card, and the visitors capitalised by securing all three points with Salah’s 84th-minute effort to maintain their pursuit of a second-place finish.
Palace led at half-time following Luka Milivojevic’s penalty but after conceding another late goal at Selhurst Park they remain at risk of relegation from the Premier League.
In addition to Wilfried Zaha passing a late fitness test to start, Roy Hodgson’s team had been further strengthened by the return to their starting XI of the fit-again Yohan Cabaye for the first time since the defeat at Everton on February 10th. They are yet to secure a league point this season in Zaha’s absence and he again demonstrated his importance to their ambitions when he tested Loris Karius early on.
After being sent one-on-one with the goalkeeper following a fine ball from Cabaye and despite minimal time and space, he controlled with his left foot amid suspicions of handball before shooting with his right and watching Karius clear. When he again went rushing through on goal, Karius needlessly rushed out and clumsily took him down, leaving referee Neil Swarbrick with little choice but to award the hosts a 13th-minute penalty.
For the seventh time this season, Milivojevic scored from the penalty spot, shooting powerfully into the bottom left corner while Karius dived right, to give Palace the lead.
It was then that Mane attempted to impose himself. In his own attempts to win a penalty he appeared to dive under minimal contact from James McArthur and was booked. He has at times struggled to reproduce the same form as last season while Mohamed Salah has excelled, and it was the Egyptian who tested Palace’s Wayne Hennessey with a curling effort the goalkeeper jumped to collect.
With a low header from Salah’s corner, Mane then forced Hennessey into a diving reaction save before McArthur scrambled clear, but Palace absorbed that pressure to retain their lead until four minutes into the second half. Following James Milner’s low ball from the left wing, the alert Mane finished low at the near post beyond Hennessey and was soon fortunate not to be sent off.
Christian Benteke missed the first of two fine chances against his former team when a header from Milivojevic sent him one-on-one with Karius before his composure deserted him and he hooked harmlessly wide. Almost immediately after, Andros Townsend’s run and pass put him into a similarly-promising position, but he then snatched at the ball and again shot over the crossbar.
With Liverpool still under threat, Mane conceded a free-kick with a blatant handball that should have led to a second yellow card. He was soon substituted, and then watched as his replacement Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain contributed to Salah’s winning goal. The midfielder’s cross from the right wing found Andrew Robertson on the left, and when he played the ball towards Salah, the Egyptian coolly finished low into the bottom corner to secure all three points.