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Crystal Palace 1 : 2 Liverpool

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Mohamed Salah scored his 200th Liverpool goal as Jurgen Klopp’s side produced a late comeback against 10-man Crystal Palace to move top of the Premier League and increase the pressure on former boss Roy Hodgson.

Salah became only the fifth player to reach that landmark for the club, joining Ian Rush, Roger Hunt, Gordon Hodgson and Billy Liddell, when he ignited the fightback with a 76th-minute equaliser.

Salah’s goal arrived just 98 seconds after Jordan Ayew was dismissed for a second bookable offence, and the visitors had failed to land a shot on target prior to that moment.

Palace, booed off by their supporters following a disappointing home loss to Bournemouth on Wednesday, were on course to deliver a surprise blow to the Reds’ title aspirations following Jean-Philippe Mateta’s penalty.

The game had continued for more than one minute after Jarell Quansah caught Mateta when attempting to clear a cross before the video assistant referee intervened – but referee Andy Madley did not take long to award Palace a spot-kick after being sent to the pitchside monitor.

Palace had seen a penalty decision in their favour overturned during the first half when Madley took three minutes to review a challenge by Will Hughes on Endo in the lead-up to Virgil van Dijk’s foul on Odsonne Edouard inside the box. Liverpool, though dominant, struggled throughout to break the hosts down and the returning Alisson came to his side’s rescue in stunning fashion in the first half when he pushed Jefferson Lerma’s first-time shot on to the post.

The visitors again had the Brazilian to thank for another excellent stop to prevent Joachim Andersen providing a dramatic twist with a header from a free-kick in the 100th minute.

Having eventually ended Palace’s spirited resistance, victory took the Reds one point above last season’s runners-up Arsenal, who lost 1-0 to third-placed Aston Villa later on Saturday.

Liverpool show title momentum

After this late show, at the end of a largely frustrating match in which they found clear-cut chances difficult to come by, Liverpool’s sole league defeat this season remains the controversial stoppage-time loss at Tottenham. They appear genuine title contenders. Klopp’s side, like current closest rivals Arsenal, are demonstrating an ability to turn setbacks into victories.

They have scored a league-leading 14 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season, while the 18 points they have taken from losing positions is also unmatched. While champions Manchester City have stuttered, the Reds extended their unbeaten run to nine games to leapfrog Arsenal.

Klopp, who has made no secret of his disdain for early Saturday kick-offs, refreshed his side from Wednesday’s win over Sheffield United with five changes -goalkeeper Alisson’s return from a two-match injury absence among them. But despite their control, the visit to Selhurst Park was shaping up to be a missed opportunity as Liverpool failed to test Sam Johnstone and had Alisson’s quick reactions to thank for not trailing sooner.

They were significantly aided in their pursuit of rescuing a late result by Ayew’s exit, but Liverpool were relentless after Salah equalised and Elliott’s stunner was their reward. Salah’s tally of 200 goals has arrived in 327 appearances for the club since joining from Roma for £34m in June 2017, also contributing 86 assists in that time, and he will undoubtedly be key to their ability to maintain a title push.

“I see the mentality to keep fighting until the end. We keep doing that,” said Salah, who also reached 150 Premier League goals, on the similarities between the current side and Liverpool’s 2019-20 title winners.

“We have a new team now because there’s six or seven [new] players. We need to give them advice. They’re learning a lot and they’re really nice. We can do something special this year.”

Pressure on Hodgson to inspire change of fortune

While this was an improved performance on the loss to Bournemouth, Palace remain in a precarious position – and with the pressure mounting on Hodgson to prove he can inspire a change in fortunes.

Recent results certainly do not make for pleasant reading. Palace have won only once in their past nine league matches, suffering six defeats and amassing just five points.

That run leaves them seven points above the bottom three before the rest of the weekend’s action, and it is the recent defeats by Everton, Luton and Bournemouth – three of the six sides currently below them – which will be of most concern to supporters.

Hodgson has not helped his own situation, this week apologising to the fans after saying the boos which greeted the full-time whistle on Wednesday were evidence they had been “spoiled” in recent times. Sacked after 20 matches as Liverpool boss in 2011, Hodgson has lost all eight meetings with his former club during Klopp’s tenure – but he would have been sensing an opportunity as his side battled to protect their advantage until the latter stages.

But Ayew’s dismissal – his second yellow card awarded for preventing a Liverpool counter-attack – marked the start of Palace’s collapse, and they have now suffered four consecutive Premier League home defeats for the first time since February 2017. Things do not get any easier, with a trip to Manchester City next.