Report and free highlights as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane are on target in big Liverpool win over Crystal Palace
Thursday 25 June 2020 06:01, UK
Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 and are on the brink of the Premier League title, knowing a win or draw for Chelsea against Manchester City on Thursday will see them crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.
An inch-perfect Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick (23) and trademark finish from the returning Mohamed Salah (44) rewarded Liverpool's first-half dominance at Anfield and, with the visitors' threat hampered by an early injury to Wilfried Zaha, the Reds continued their control after the break.
Fabinho crashed home a stunning 30-yard strike (55) and Sadio Mane slotted home number four (68) to extend their advantage over second-placed Manchester City to 23 points.
Liverpool's attentions will now turn to City's trip to Chelsea. If City win, then Liverpool will have the chance to clinch the crown against the defending champions next Thursday, July 2.
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (9), Henderson (7), Wijnaldum (7), Salah (9), Firmino (7), Mane (9).
Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Williams (6), Minamino (6), Keita (N/A), Elliott (N/A)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (5), Ward (5), Cahill (5), Sakho (5), Van Aanholt (6), Kouyate (6), McCarthy (6), McArthur (6), Zaha (N/A), Townsend (5), Ayew (5).
Subs: Meyer (6), Milivojevic (6), Riedewald (5), Pierrick (N/A)
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Jurgen Klopp's side had looked blunt when they drew with Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, but they showed far more incision in attack from the off against Palace.
Gini Wijnaldum should have put Liverpool ahead on eight minutes when he scuffed a close-range shot wide, before skipper Jordan Henderson skied a volley over the bar from Mane's cross moments later.
A muscle injury to Zaha was a major blow to Palace's ambitions and they suffered an even more significant setback on 23 minutes when an unnecessary Jordan Ayew foul on Virgil van Dijk allowed Alexander-Arnold to bend home a delicious free-kick from the edge of the area.
Jordan Henderson then struck a post from Palace 'keeper Wayne Hennessey's punch out and Wijnaldum was off target again after a handball penalty shout out against the visitors' Gary Cahill was waved away as Liverpool assumed total control.
A Joe Gomez mis-control allowed Max Meyer a rare sight at goal for Roy Hodgson's men, but, two minutes after his wayward strike, Salah chested down and clinically converted Fabinho's delightful chipped through ball for Liverpool's 100th goal of the season across all competitions.
Fabinho then went from provider to goalscorer after the interval, hammering the ball into the corner of Palace's goal with a stunning long-range strike.
Salah curled just wide and sub Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired over but Mane made no mistake with his finish when he rounded off a move he started and also involved great combination play from Liverpool's feared front three.
With 22 minutes to play it seemed Liverpool would go on and find a fifth and Salah had a golden chance to do just that but got caught between passing to a team-mate or scoring himself. But by then his impact on his return to the team had been powerfully felt by Palace.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "Wow. Imagine if this stadium would have been full today, and all the people would have experienced it live. It would have been amazing.
"The boys played like everyone was in the stadium. They pushed themselves and the atmosphere on the pitch was incredible. Today was for sure the best counter-pressing game I saw behind closed doors!
"I liked it a lot. I liked the game so much. They are 4-0 up in the 87th minute, and four players are chasing one poor Crystal Palace player like it's the only ball in the world. Wonderful result, wonderful game. All good."
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: "Liverpool tonight were in such incredible form, I think that irrespective of the team we put out, we'd have found it very difficult. They were so impressive and aggressive in their pressing to win the ball back that we got no opportunities to get our foot on the ball to ask them questions.
"Up to the second goal, I didn't think they were creating a chance every time they attacked, but the second goal right on the stroke of half-time was always going to make life difficult. We knew we were then staring down the barrel of a big defeat."
On Zaha's withdrawal, Hodgson added: "He's got a calf injury... he felt a strain in his calf muscle. There was some discussion between myself, the doctors and him but he was adamant that he wanted to try it. It was obvious after 10 minutes that he wouldn't be able to do that as we don't want to be without him for a period of time."
Liverpool now need to gain just two points to win the Premier League title. So, if nearest challengers Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night, the Reds will be crowned champions. If City beat Chelsea, Liverpool can win the title by avoiding defeat at City on July 2, live on Sky Sports.
Liverpool have to wait eight days until their next game, away at Manchester City on Thursday July 2 at 8.15pm, live on Sky Sports, while Palace host Burnley at Selhurst Park on Monday at 8pm.
If Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea on Thursday, then Sky Sports will be on air with a Liverpool title winners special show on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports News from 10pm.