Premier League • England

High-lined Liverpool survive Crystal Palace scare to close ground again in Prem title race

Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk heads in his goal against Crystal Palace, January 2022

Liverpool survived against a relentless Crystal Palace to escape Selhurst Park with all three points and further close ground in the Premier League title race.

Virgil van Dijk’s bullet header gave the Reds a lead which they then doubled through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Eagles fought back and responded after half-time as Odsonne Edouard struck, but a late Fabinho penalty secured the away win.

Jurgen Klopp made just one change from the Carabao Cup win at Arsenal on Thursday. Oxlade-Chamberlain came in for youngster Kaide Gordon.

Vicente Guaita returned in place of Jack Butland for Patrick Vieira, while Jean-Philippe Mateta replaced Eberechi Eze in Palace’s only other swap.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to go ahead. Only seven minutes had passed when Van Dijk met Robertson’s corner at the front post and found the back of the net in straightforward fashion.

They continued to push forward, not content to sit on their one-goal advantage. Robertson found Oxlade-Chamberlain with a cross and his effort hit the side netting.

Guaita was out quickly to snuff out another chance for the midfielder.

After a non-stop start for their backline, Palace went close with a chance of their own, albeit an offside one. Joel Ward crossed for Mateta who was denied at point-blank range before the flag was raised.

But the outlet of Robertson down the left was proving too much and he set up the second goal with a cross which Oxlade-Chamberlain swept home from at the back post.

Palace push Liverpool back

Liverpool then started to look like they could be the masters of their own downfall.

Mateta stole possession from Curtis Jones before finding Conor Gallagher with a cross, but his first touch ran through to Allison.

Soon after Joel Matip sloppily passed straight to Michael Olise, who was one-on-one with the Reds goalkeeper. He shot straight at him, though.

Another mistake followed before half-time. After Roberto Firmino had lost the ball Mateta rounded Allison, but his shot was off target.

And Palace continued coming after the break. Gallagher should have instantly got one back but somehow headed wide from just yards out.

Edouard was next to go close. Allison got down smartly to claim his backheel amid chaos in the Liverpool box.

The hosts could have had multiple goals, but they did finally get on the scoresheet 10 minutes into the second half.

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Jeffrey Schlupp excellently played in Mateta, who calmly squared the ball for Edouard to tap into an empty net.

The game was nearly level when Joachim Anderson’s left-footed strike from range whistled just past the post.

Klopp responded to the Palace dominance by making his first substitution. Takumi Minamino entered the fray with Oxlade-Chamberlain coming off.

Vieira followed suit, introducing Eze in place of Edouard.

After an intense period the game died down somewhat with Liverpool getting a foothold once more.

Further Palace changes followed as they looked to find the equaliser. Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew came on for Mateta and Will Hughes.

They looked likely to get it as they repeatedly exposed Liverpool’s high line. First Allison was nearly caught out by a defensive header but managed to recover before it bounced past him for a goal.

Then the Brazilian had to desperately run back to claw Olise’s chipped effort out after the Eagles forward had been played in over the top.

But a rare second-half attack for the away side resulted in a penalty which was awarded after a lengthy VAR check for a foul by Guaita on Diogo Jota.

Fabinho sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to put the victory beyond doubt.

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