Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace
Premier League (38), Anfield
May 23, 2021
Goals: Mane 35′ 73′
Alisson Becker – 8 (out of 10)
Early saves on Zaha low down and Townsend high up, inside the first minutes.
The usual good footwork and composure with his aerial takes, but it was a considerably more quiet afternoon’s work for him between the fifth minute and the 90th.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
A wayward pass gave Townsend a great chance, but his first-half deliveries were good.
Did lots of work linking up with a Trent-Thiago-Salah triangle down the channel, getting into great positions and feeding Mo with regularity to run at the left-back.
More of that next season!
Nat Phillips – 8
That Townsend chance wasn’t all on Trent – Nat should have dealt better with it.
But he was very much on the front foot all the time, quick to intercept passes into the front man and his usual self heading everything in sight – including Fabinho.
Whether at Anfield or not, this season has unquestionably made Nat as a senior defender.
Rhys Williams – 8
And to complete the set, Rhys’ inexperience and lack of anticipation almost cost the Reds as he didn’t react or cover on the Townsend chance.
He also should have buried his header after 20 minutes at the other end.
Some very cool passing under pressure thereafter, always making a good angle for Ali and not afraid to go diagonal to switch play.
Andy Robertson – 9
Bit of a worry with a calf strain in the first half but he seemed fine afterward.
Some brilliant overlapping runs as usual, loads of tracking back when needed and some linkup down the left which was as good as we have seen for quite some time.
Great work against Zaha.
Fabinho – 8
Not quite at his best over the past couple of weeks, but didn’t really do anything wrong outside of losing the ball once to give away a counter-attack.
Strong in the air, dominant when Palace foolishly tried to dribble past him and always on hand to help out the centre-backs.
Thiago – 9
Probably doesn’t want the season to end just now – nobody can get near him.
Almost all the Reds’ best fizzing, flowing, attacking moves either started with Thiago or involved him at the heart, sliding passes between white shirts and forcing them to step out of defence thanks to his willingness to run direct towards the box.
The Kop appreciated plenty of his touches and turns; they will do even more in a full stadium, in a full season.
Gini Wijnaldum – 8
Got a great reception on what we expect to be his final game in Red.
Lots of endeavour when the game was goalless, running into the box at times, winning it back quickly and covering in the channel as he always does.
Huge, huge and very much deserved ovation for our No. 5 when he was subbed off.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Several early chances, the best of which was a one-on-one which he hit straight at Guaita – probably should have squared it.
But you know what? Mo did everything for the team here, running in behind, making himself available, dragging two across with regularity and teeing up the all-important second to settle any lingering nerves.
Mo didn’t score, and didn’t win the Golden Boot as a result, but he’s probably the biggest reason for Liverpool being in the top four all the same.
Roberto Firmino – 8
Involved in loads of good buildup play, both in deep areas and around the edge of the box. Got a small, but really important, touch on to Mane for an assist.
Cracked a left-footer just wide and a header was tipped over, played about six backheeled passes and one off his back. Silky stuff.
Sadio Mane – 9 – Man of the Match
He loves playing Palace! Had a great start to the game, fashioned several openings and scored the vital first, prodding home after a corner.
Mane ran more than in previous games, showed some lovely creative work and won the ball back plenty of times – all his best traits.
But most of all, he scored. Twice. The second was a real ‘ah, sod it’ moment – just lash it and see what happens. What happened is it went in.
James Milner (on for Wijnaldum, 77′) – 6 – Did some runs and a big Milly foul for a booking.
Diogo Jota (on for Firmino, 90′) – N/A – Back from injury.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Robertson, 90′) – N/A – Injury time only.
Subs not used: Adrian, N.Williams, Tsimikas, Henderson, Jones, Shaqiri
Jurgen Klopp – 9
Named an unchanged XI for the first time in the league this season – Gini captain on his final game, Hendo and Jota back on the bench.
The team played well, as well as they have in their recent games, with just that finishing touch missing at times once more – something we want to see improved next year in general, of course.
There was loads of good movement and combination work in attack, plenty of intent and determination in defence…and enough creativity to put six past Palace really.
All in all, another good outing in isolation, but a brilliant occasion with the return of fans, the top-four questions being answered and the end-of-season run we’ve had.
Well done Jurgen and the Reds – mission accomplished from a really tough position.