10-man Liverpool’s last-gasp controversial penalty puts Palace to the sword
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 6, 2016
Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool
- Adebayor header hits bar for hosts after 10 minutes
- Eagles midfielder Ledley opens scoring shortly after half-time
- Liverpool’s Milner sent off on the hour for two bookings
- Firmino profits from McCarthy slip for Reds equaliser
- Moreno hits base of post for visitors late on
- Referee Marriner awards 95th minute penalty against Delaney
- Benteke steals points from Palace with controversial spot-kick
- Palace last won a Premier League game on December 19th
Eagles drought continues with desperate Reds defeat
Crystal Palace remain the only Premier League side not to win in 2016, with Roberto Firmino and a hugely controversial Christian Benteke penalty rescuing Jurgen Klopp’s inconsistent Liverpool side at Selhurst Park, when it looked like they would succumb to a second-half strike from Joe Ledley.
Eagles boss Alan Pardew looked to have finally addressed the disturbing slide since Christmas, when his team occupied a top six spot, despite losing a couple of players to injury from midweek, but the Reds came back at their bogey team even though James Milner saw red for two bookings.
Palace’s wait for a league win has now gone on for almost three months (since December 19th), and they picked up just four points since the turn of the year.
Palace initially punish Liverpool’s priority puzzle
German gaffer Klopp’s decision to keep Philippe Coutinho in reserve once again, perhaps with that tasty Europa League last 16 tie against Manchester United in mind, almost backfired on the Kop manager here.
Losing to the Merseysiders with the last kick of the game, when replays were highly inconclusive over there being any contact between Benteke and Damien Delaney, was not all that surprising for the Eagles, as they were without in-form frontman Connor Wickham and first-choice goalie Wayne Hennessey.
A frenetic opening to this game saw early action go from end to end, with Palace prepared to play direct and on the break. Roberto Firmino’s near-post effort was blocked only for the hosts to immediately spring a counter-attack through Yannick Bolasie and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Adebayor adventurous early on
Simon Mignolet is the visiting goal had to come smartly off his line to thwart DR Congo winger Bolasie. Liverpool’s Belgium international stopper than had to parry for Togo striker Adebayor, who then saw the bar deny him.
Klopp saw his defence fail to defend the second ball from a simple throw-in, allowing ex-Spurs striker Adebayor to nod against the woodwork from close range. The fast pace start to this contest then abated.
Yohan Cabaye’s influence grew in midfield for Pardew’s Eagles, firing just wide when breaking forward and found by Wilfried Zaha. Delaney then nodded over at the back post from the France playmaker’s free-kick.
Merseyside men experience familiar frailties
The Reds failed to really test Alex McCarthy – between the posts for Palace for the first time since September – before half-time, as Divock Origi’s effort on 30 minutes sailed over when teed up by Emre Can, and then a Milner dead-ball deflected behind off the wall.
Sloppy set-piece defending from Klopp’s travelling team – a familiar frailty for everyone connected with the Anfield outfit this term – resulted in them conceding the opener early in the second-half.
A left-wing corner led to shots from left back Pape Souare and Eagles captain Mile Jedinak being blocked rather than cleared, and that allowed Wales international midfielder Ledley to fire the rebound past Mignolet.
Early bath for Milner
Liverpool misery was compounded just after the hour mark when referee Andre Marriner sent Milner off for a second booking, incurring punishment for first felling Cabaye and then Zaha.
Now a man light and short of bodies in midfield, Firmino’s tame effort was their first on target with a quarter of the game to go, but very easy for McCarthy.
Although Klopp’s crew tried to bring themselves back into the game, it took a huge mistake from rusty keeper McCarthy to bring them level.
Keeper clanger allows equaliser
His slip when clearing the ball gave Firmino a virtual open goal to aim at, and the Brazilian made no mistake, slotting under the outstretched body of the calamitous custodian.
The 10 men had their tails up during a grandstand finish, and Benteke almost won it with his first-touch after coming off the bench.
Reds left back Alberto Moreno lashed one against the base of the post late on, but the Eagles looked to survived to take a share of the spoils with McCarthy saving from Benteke in stoppage time.
Penalty pain for Palace at death
Big Belgium frontman Benteke then went down in the area from Delaney’s challenge. Contact looked minimal, with replays far from convincing, yet Liverpool players surrounded match official Marriner, apparently emploring him to take advice from his assistant.
Eventually he pointed to the spot, and Benteke waited for McCarthy to move before coolly slotting home the winning goal with the last kick of the game. The Reds have now won three Premier League games in a row.
This result leaves Palace nine clear of the relegation zone, but was a real opportunity missed to get their league campaign back on track. Pardew must fancy his chances of taking the team to Wembley, with a winnable FA Cup quarter-final against Reading (7/5) next on his agenda.