Liverpool recorded a third successive league win for the first time this season,with a sweet last-gasp victory over Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Christian Benteke’s nerveless 95th minute penalty sealed a huge three points for Jurgen Klopp’s 10-man Reds in south London.
Joe Ledley fired the home side ahead three minutes into the second period, and James Milner’s brainless foul resulting in his sending off appeared to end all hopes of a comeback victory thereafter.
But Roberto Firmino’s clinical finish following a terrible error from Eagles’ stopper Alex McCarthy drew the Reds level, before Benteke snatched all three points from the spot with the last kick of the game.
It was a fantastic show of character from Klopp’s side to come from behind with only 10 men.
Reds Stay Angry to Claim Vital Victory
Prior to the Selhurst Park trip, Klopp challenged his side to “stay angry” as they begin the final fight for fourth place.
Trailing 1-0 and down to 10 men against a side without a win since December – the Reds responded with the controlled anger the manager wants.
Huge credit must go to the players – who were clearly unaccepting of the situation that had unfolded – to use their frustrations by fighting back, showing character, resilience and belief to keep plugging away and battling to a huge victory.
The Reds deserved the slice of fortune that came their way via McCarthy’s poor clearance that Firmino ruthlessly punished for the way they responded to going down a man down, and the sheer desire they showed thereafter to push for a winner when they could have settled for a draw deserved the penalty Benteke stuck away.
This Liverpool may frustrate with a lack of quality at times, but one thing that cannot be questioned is the fighting spirit in the group which proved the difference on the day.
Milner’s Red Card
The dismissal of one of the most experienced Reds in the team was one that was simply idiotic, seemingly handing the gift of a first win for three months to Pardew’s men.
But Milner’s departure proved a blessing in disguise, with the exit of No.7 – who was struggling to influence proceedings and impact on the Reds’ disjointed attacking play – inspiring a stunning upturn in performance.
Despite their man disadvantage, Klopp’s side looked much better once the senior midfielder was sent for an early shower, with Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana enjoying much quicker, slicker, passing moves as they searched for a way back.
Milner MOTM. Sacrificed himself so we could play better.
— MB (@MrBoywunder) March 6, 2016
Milner is undoubtedly a handy player to have and offers some vital traits, but his presence has at times been a hindrance as was the case at Selhurst Park.
His suspension offers another blessing, with Klopp now able to play what would be regarded as his strongest attack next time out in which he will hope for the same result.
Reds Showing Signs of Finding Consistency
Klopp called for his side to make consistency their “hobby” ahead of the trip to the Eagles – and his team responded by claiming a vitally important third straight league win.
The Reds made hard work of it in south east London, but stepped up to the occasion to fight from behind to ensure no ground was lost in the race four fourth, with a key three points that keeps Liverpool firmly in the hunt.
It is the first time the Reds have posted three wins on the spin since March last year, and it couldn’t have been better timed, perfectly setting up the Europa League visit of Man United on Thursday night.
Klopp’s side haven’t lost a 90-minute match since February 2nd at Leicester.
Benteke Shows Bottle to Net Winner
A much maligned figure since his big-money summer move, Liverpool’s No.9 deserves huge credit for his match-winning impact.
The Belgian could and perhaps should have scored upon his introduction for Divock Origi with 10 minutes to go, and it looked like he passed up the opportunity to slot the winner after being released on goal by Coutinho later.
But moments later, Benteke won the last-gasp penalty, and in a huge show of courage, stepped up to take it – displaying real commendable self-belief and bottle to take the responsibility given his well-documented struggles.
Stepping up to be the unlikely hero could provide the confidence injection needed for Benteke to kick-start his Anfield career.
Reds End Selhurst Park Jinx
Trips to Selhurst Park have been truly miserable in recent years, but Klopp’s side banished their SE25 woes in dramatic style.
The Reds arrived without a win at Selhurst in the league since 1997, and with only an FA Cup victory last February to show from their last seven trips south.
It appeared another miserable afternoon would be forthcoming – 1-0 and a man down – but a sensational turnaround in the face of adversity ensured an unhappy hunting ground would be no more.
The fact it was via a last second penalty and with a man disadvantage against the side who inflicted Klopp’s first defeat as Reds boss made it all the more sweeter.
Crystal Palace 1 –2 Liverpool