The Reds managed to banish their Selhurst Park hoodoo, having capitulated there last season and lost 3-1 in the Premier League in November.
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo highlighted how the Reds rid themselves of their Selhurst Park demons, after the aforementioned disasters there of late:
Love was in the air at Selhurst Park. After the heartbreak of recent visits to south London, Liverpool delivered the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to Kopites by booking their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Twice, Crystal Palace had embarrassed the Reds in the capital in the past eight months. Not this time. Brendan Rodgers’ side grasped the opportunity to exorcise their Selhurst Park demons by showcasing just how far they have come since those dark days of November.
Revenge was sweet for the 3,700-strong travelling Kop packed into the away end, who lauded in song the heroes who have transformed the club’s season.
Pearce was also very praiseworthy of numerous Liverpool performers on the day, including substitute Mario Balotelli:
There were big performances across the field. Simon Mignolet continued his resurgence with a faultless display between the posts as he made two vital saves, while in front of him the outstanding Mamadou Sakho put his recent wobbles against Everton and Tottenham firmly behind him. In midfield Joe Allen repaid Rodgers’ faith in him as the Welshman enjoyed one of his best days in a Liverpool shirt.
Stand-in skipper Jordan Henderson led by example throughout and once again demonstrated that he isn’t simply a great athlete and emerging leader.
There was also another highly promising cameo from Mario Balotelli, whose entrance for the second half helped kick-start the Reds’ fightback.
After playing a key role in the winner, the Italian even summoned a smile and the away fans showed their appreciation for his application and menace.
Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo focused on the impressive performance of Joe Allen, who did well following plenty of criticism of late:
The bold – and understandable – move for Rodgers would have been to move Emre Can forwards. But Allen is a player Rodgers trusts, and Allen it was who got the nod. He repaid his manager’s faith.
He was bright and busy in the first half, helping Liverpool monopolise possession. One incisive pass helped create a chance for Adam Lallana, while he sent a well-controlled volley just wide himself later in the half.
It is easy to forget that Allen played a big part in last season’s thrilling title run. It was around this time last year that he worked himself back into the side, and he delivered some stellar performances in those incredible final months of the campaign.
With Lucas and Gerrard set to be sidelined for at least a few weeks each, Liverpool might require the Welshman to do something similar this season.
The Daily Telegraph‘s Jonathan Liew believes Sturridge’s form continues to improve, but he is not suited to being a lone striker:
Whither the 3-4-2-1 formation upon which Brendan Rodgers has staked so much? And more importantly, whither Daniel Sturridge?
His first goal away from Anfield since the World Cup was certainly a welcome confidence boost as he continues his return to full sharpness, but it came after the introduction of Balotelli, just as his best work last season was done with Luis Suarez in tow. Sturridge is yet to show that he can produce his best form as a lone striker. Thing is, Rodgers has built this new system on the basis that he will.
Liew was also unconvinced by some of Emre Can‘s defending, and feels his future definitely lies in midfield:
For a few halcyon weeks, Emre Can – originally signed as a defensive midfielder – appeared to be the answer to all Liverpool’s problems in defence. Deployed of late in a sort of free-jazz, “false No2” role, Can’s limitations were exposed for the first time in this match, when he failed to track the run of Dwight Gayle, who slipped through unnoticed to create the opening goal.
It was not the only time he was caught out of position, and although Can is a fine player, he would surely admit himself that his best position is still in midfield at present.
Mignolet had his fair share of critics after a shaky start to the season at Anfield. However, the ex-Sunderland man has stepped up his game in recent weeks, piling praise on his partner Jasmien for getting him back on track.
The 26-year-old’s save from Gayle when his side were trailing 1-0 proved to be the turning point in this game. Rodgers will be hoping the Belgian shot-stopper has turned the corner.
Next up for Liverpool is Thursday’s Europa League last-32 clash with Besiktas at Anfield (8:05pm kick off GMT).