Christmas comes early for Klopp as Liverpool stun Palace with seven-goal demolition

Date published: Saturday 19th December 2020 2:32 - Robert McCarthy

Jordan Henderson TEAMtalk

Liverpool went six points clear at the top of the Premier League table after thumping sorry Crystal Palace 7-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Takumi Minamino got them off to an early flier, before goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino made it 3-0 at the break.

It was more of the same in the second period as skipper Jordan Henderson found the target, before Firmino grabbed his second and then sub Mo Salah bagged a late brace.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson handed starts to Nathaniel Clyne, Gary Cahill, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew for the visit of the champions.

In four changes to the side which claimed a 1-1 draw at West Ham on Wednesday, Joel Ward, Scott Dann and Andros Townsend dropped to the bench, while Christian Benteke missed out due to suspension.

Jurgen Klopp also switched things around from the Liverpool team which beat Tottenham 2-1 earlier in the week to go top of the league.

Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Minamino were recalled with Rhys Williams, Curtis Jones and Salah named among the substitutes.

Fast start from Reds

Minamino needed only three minutes to take his chance and fire Liverpool into a 1-0 lead.

Trent Alexander-Arnold produced a wonderful pass into Sadio Mane, and he found the Japan attacker inside the hosts’ penalty area.

After working a yard of space, Minamino drilled into the corner from 10 yards to score his first Premier League goal.

It was a nightmare start for Palace against the champions, with both sides able to list nine substitutes for the first time after a rule change was agreed this week.

Mane continued his remarkable scoring run against Palace with Liverpool’s second in the 36th minute at Selhurst Park.

After netting in his previous six fixtures against the south London club, he made it seven when he collected Roberto Firmino’s pass and fired home to make it 2-0 to the champions.

It occurred after Palace had asked several questions of the visitors, but a lack of quality in the final third proved costly and Klopp’s men showed their class with a clinical second to take control of proceedings in SE25.

Liverpool went 3-0 up with a minute of the first half left.

Firmino, under pressure, produced a wonderful pass with the outside of his boot to the roving Andrew Robertson inside the visitors half.

The Brazilian continued his run and controlled the cross from the left-back before applying the required finish with a poke into the corner for his fourth goal of the season.

Crystal Palace were the first side out after the break, but it did little to stop the Liverpool train with the visitors scoring a fourth seven minutes into the second period.

Henderson hits a stunner

Alexander-Arnold got an assist to his name with a cut-back for captain Jordan Henderson, who curled into the corner from the edge of the area to make it 4-0.

It was the midfielder’s first goal in five months and ensured Liverpool were on course to top the table at Christmas for a third year in a row.

The Reds made it 5-0 in the 68th minute with another masterful finish.

Substitute Salah passed into Firmino’s path and he took the ball in his stride and chipped over Vicente Guaita to grab his second of the afternoon.

After scoring against Tottenham on Wednesday, the Brazilian had more than doubled his tally for the season in the space of a few days and had time left to search for a hat-trick.

Salah made it six with nine minutes to go when Joel Matip won a header from a corner which feel to the Egypt star to nod home from close range.

And, remarkably, it was seven just three minutes later when Salah cut in from the right onto his left foot and curled a dipping shot over the keeper and into the top corner.

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