Evergreen Senegalese star Sadio Mane scores his Liverpool century against Crystal Palace at Ainfield
Sadio Mane scored his 100th goal for Liverpool in his 224th appearance as they claimed a 3-0 victory at home against Crystal Palace, with Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita scoring the other goals.
Jurgen Klopp changed his entire back four compared to the lineup that had faced AC Milan in midweek. That meant a Liverpool debut for Ibrahima Konate, playing alongside the returning Virgil van Dijk. James Milner and Kostas Tsimikas were the full-backs. Trent Alexander-Arnold was out due to illness.
Klopp also restored Sadio Mane to his starting lineup in attack, taking Divock Origi’s place. In midfield, the trio of Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho started for just the second time together.
Palace, meanwhile, stuck with a winning formula, not making any changes to the XI that beat Tottenham the previous weekend.
And the visitors made another confident start to the game, with a couple of chances falling to them early on. Alisson had to push an effort from Wilfried Zaha onto the post, before Christian Benteke also hit the woodwork with a header.
Diogo Jota brought Liverpool back to life at the other end with an effort across goal. But it was Henderson who tested the Palace keeper first.
After scoring a great goal against AC Milan in the Champions League, the Liverpool captain forced a save from Vicente Guaita after connecting to Sadio Mane’s ball with a half volley.
At the other end, Konate gave his new fans the first real glimpse of what he is about by blocking a shot from Benteke.
Liverpool still had gears to go through and upped the ante with shots from Milner and Fabinho just after the half-hour mark.
With their best chance yet, Jota somehow blazed the ball over the bar from three yards out when he could have tapped it in after a rebound from Guaita’s glove.
But Liverpool did manage to find a breakthrough before the half-time whistle went. Mane, who has endured a somewhat frustrating few months, broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute to bring up his 100th goal for the club.
Once again, the chance came via a rebound after Guaita pushed away a header from Salah following a Tsimikas corner. But unlike Jota, Mane made no mistake and scored against Palace for a ninth consecutive game.
Alisson made a save to deny Joel Ward and preserve Liverpool’s clean sheet by the break in the last chance of the half. But they certainly knew they were in a game.
The second half started at a slower tempo, but the intensity began to return. Liverpool had to make the first change of the game when Keita came on for an injured Thiago.
Shortly after, Palace gave the hosts a scare when winning a free kick on the edge of the box. VAR was required to determine it wasn’t in the penalty area. Fortunately for Liverpool, it wasn’t, and Benteke’s resulting free kick hit the wall.
It was the ex-Reds striker’s last involvement, as Odsonne Edouard replaced him shortly after a corner at the other end, which van Dijk headed over. Despite Palace making the attacking change, Guaita remained the busier keeper. He had to make consecutive saves to deny Keita and Salah as the final 20 minutes approached.
Edouard then breathed a sigh of relief after slicing a clearance from a Liverpool free kick narrowly wide of his own goal. But moments later, Klopp’s men doubled their lead anyway.
This time it was Salah who struck, reacting at the back-post to a van Dijk flick on from the resulting corner. There were still more than 10 minutes for the hosts to navigate and Palace showed signs of life when Edouard got in behind Konate and forced a save from Alisson.
But Liverpool’s lead was comfortable enough and they saw out the closing stages of the game successfully. In fact, they even found time to increase their lead.
A seemingly revitalised Keita got in on the act with a left-footed volley from range as the end of the game approached. It means they remain top of the table, yet to taste defeat from their opening five games
- A Tell / TeamTalk report