Home » EPL, Featured, Latest » Match Report: Liverpool 3 Crystal Palace 1

At the height of the chase for Luis Suárez’s signature, there may have been a fleeting moment of weakness in a corner of Anfield.

The thought occurred that if a bid of £50 million did materialise from Arsenal or Real Madrid, perhaps it would not be so catastrophic if he was sold, the money reinvested in a more mentally stable and less individualistic player; one less prone to volatility.

Fortunately for Brendan Rodgers, such idle thoughts were never entertained in the Anfield boardroom and Suárez’s latest exploits, outclassing and toying with the Crystal Palace defence in a 3-1 win, revealed a startling truth about last summer.

The South American is ridiculously underrated.

Forget £40 million, if Liverpool had received £60 million they would have been short-changed. Suárez is that good. Not, as many will churlishly say, in the same class as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but on a level just below which is still beyond virtually everyone else.

Suárez emerged from the tunnel before kick-off cuddling his nine-day-old baby, Benjamin. The observation would have been made a year ago that it makes a change from him carrying his team-mates. Not now.

Liverpool’s first-half dominance was inspired by, rather than wholly down to, Suárez’s magic boots. Lest we forget, Liverpool possess two high-class strikers these days.

Daniel Sturridge scored his eighth goal of the season and is as responsible as his strike partner for Liverpool’s lofty position.

Roy Hodgson was watching, no doubt relieved that a couple of knocks to Sturridge were not serious. Hodgson was Liverpool manager the last time Ian Holloway was here. Blackpool won that day.

The difference now is stark, although Liverpool are still a strange team.

They moved top of the Premier League thanks to a victory which, on the basis of the first half, could have been more emphatic and on the basis of the second half was about right. They still offer plenty for the rose-tinted and perpetually overcast brigade.

Rodgers was disturbed at the drop in standards after the break. It must feel more satisfying noting the room for improvement when you are at the summit looking down at the rest.

Suárez struck the first on 14 minutes, exchanging passes with the overlapping José Enrique and somehow maintaining balance to poke beyond Julián Speroni.

Three minutes later, Enrique’s 30-yard ball fell to Sturridge, who engaged Simon Delaney in a game of twister prior to shooting across Speroni inside the far post.

It seemed too easy, even when Palace rallied, showing more enterprise with the ball than without it. Jimmy Kébé delayed when sent clear with just Simon Mignolet to beat, his sliced effort cleared on the line by Kolo Touré.

Mamadou Sakho was also relieved when a sliced clearance fell the right side of his own post, just an inch wide.

Liverpool still looked like they would increase their advantage with a gentle push on the pedal, although there was a dispute about the third from the penalty spot on 37 minutes.

Raheem Sterling, played as a right wing back, was adjudged to have been tripped by Dean Moxey inside the box, replays suggesting that any significant contact was outside.

“I’m not happy with the decision,” Holloway said, believing it neither a foul nor inside the penalty area.

Steven Gerrard struck his 99th league goal for the club from the resulting penalty.

Call it lack of tempo, fitness or concentration, but the anticipated rout did not follow in the second half. Holloway made a double substitution at half-time, the introduction of Dwight Gayle and José Campaña brought its reward.

Gayle flicked in Campaña’s free kick on 76 minutes, punishing Liverpool’s lethargy, but Palace already look like they’re heading back to the championship.

“We are being punished for every mistake at the moment,” Holloway said. “We had a couple of chance and unfortunately if you do not take them it is unforgiving.

“The character in the second half was terrific. Liverpool took their foot off the gas but we won the second half.”

The Palace response was too late on what turned into a day of many happy returns at Anfield: Suárez back on home soil for the first time since his early lunch against Chelsea last April; Kenny Dalglish back in a new role in the directors’ box; and Liverpool are back on top of the table, temporarily at least.

The Liverpool ladies team paraded their league title, which they won last week, at half-time. The male equivalents still look some way off from matching that feat, but if they fail to finish in the top four, it will not be due to lack of firepower.

Source: Telegraph

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