Late goals from Mohamed Salah and Harvey Elliott say Liverpool to a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace; However, the Reds were below-par at Selhurst Park; The game changed after a Jordan Ayew sending-off for two yellow cards; Roy Hodgson does not believe either incident was a booking
Sunday 10 December 2023 07:46, UK
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool were 'lucky' to beat Crystal Palace after below-par performance while Mohamed Salah - who netted his 200th Reds goal - eyes a Premier League title charge.
Liverpool put in a below-par performance at Selhurst Park, with late goals from Salah and Harvey Elliott needed to snatch a 2-1 win, with the game turning on a questionable sending off for Jordan Ayew.
Klopp himself admitted after the game that Liverpool needed things to fall their way to take the three points. The Reds failed to register a shot in target until Salah's goal, with their second coming with Elliott's winner.
"I'm a very happy manager, but I know we were lucky as well. If you only win your really good games, you have no chance to be successful and today was not a really good game from us," the Liverpool boss said.
"For 76 minutes, it was a really bad performance. We didn't have rhythm changes, we didn't have any kind of accelerations, we had no timing. It was horrendous.
"In the beginning, Crystal Palace were extremely high on confidence… They were good but we made it happen for them with bad passes and losing the ball in the wrong moment.
"But what we did from 76 to the 105 or whatever, that was really because we know up against 10 men, there can be more problems. We really turned the game around, the subs were super influential. That's actually the story so far this season that what we bring from the bench has a real impact. That's why we could do it.
"I know it's tough. These boys play an awful lot of football and sometimes the inner enemy is a bit louder than in other moments. Today, I saw a lot of boys struggling with that. You can change from outside from the bench and you can change it, but we should not come into that situation much more often.
Salah became just the fifth Liverpool play to reach 200 goals for the club on Saturday, scoring his 150th Premier League goal in the process.
He offered a reminder of his class too, also assisting Elliott's winner, and believes this current Liverpool team has the same mentality as the title-winning side from the 2019/20 season.
He told TNT Sport: "I think the most important thing is that we won the game. It was really tough. When we win the game and I score goals it's a great feeling. I'm happy for the record and for the team to win the game.
"I see the mentality. Just keep fighting until the end. We did it this game, last game and the game before. It's something positive we can take from that. Of course we have like a new team, six or seven new players in the starting line. We just need to give them our advice.
"They are learning a lot and they are really nice guys. There are similarities from 2019, but of course the other guys achieve a lot and we have to give them credit. But I am sure we can do something special this year."
Unsurprisingly, Klopp was effervescent in his praise for his double centurion Salah, adding that there was a raucous reception when he presented the forward with a commemorative shirt after the game.
"It's pretty impressive… an incredible number for a super special player," he said. "I don't know how often he saved us with a goal he's scored in the right moment.
"It was a pretty loud reception in the dressing room when I gave him the shirt with 200 on the back. I don't know if he made a speech, I had to go for media work.
"Now that's off the shoulders because when you have 199, it's a bit different to 198. Now we can go for the next 100."
Crystal Palace were certainly hard done by for their defeat, outplaying Liverpool for much of the game - up until Ayew's sending off for two yellow cards.
The first was given for not being 10 yards away from a free-kick as Virgil van Dijk went to take it quickly. The second was for a foul on Elliott in midfield.
Roy Hodgson was critical of the Liverpool defender for his part in the first incident, but believes neither warranted a yellow card.
"This is another hard one to take for us, I am gutted for the players and how the game panned out," he said.
"The red card was unbelievably harsh, the fouls committed by both teams was more or less the same and I do not think we deserved nine yellow cards, even if I probably deserved mine.
"It is saddening for me to see how hard the boys worked and come away with nothing.
"Van Dijk took the opportunity to get him booked by kicking the ball at him from a few yards away. That's very disappointing. Liverpool do not need players of that quality and status trying to get an opposition player a yellow card.
"The second one was a good challenge, and if you deem that a challenge, which it could be, then it was not a yellow card offence.
"We are talking too much about the referees and days like today show that when I do leave this game behind, I won't be missing it."
He went on to add that Ayew was 'disappointed and upset' with the sending off, which sees him banned for next weekend's trip to Manchester City.
There was also a string of injuries for Crystal Palace, including goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, with Hodgson adding: "[Odsonne] Edouard we don't know - it's a knee injury. [There was] a calf injury to Johnstone, and a hamstring injury to [Jefferson] Lerma."