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Published: 15:30 | 6/3/16

Ten-man ‘Pool win at Palace

Benteke nets late, late penalty kick

Christian Benteke netted a penalty kick deep into second-half stoppage time to secure a 2-1 victory for 10-man Liverpool at Crystal Palace.

Although the visitors had a greater share of the possession during a goalless first period, it was Palace who had the better of the opportunities, going closest through an Emmanuel Adebayor header that struck the crossbar.

Three minutes into the second half, an accurate drive from Joe Ledley saw the hosts take the lead.

The Reds were reduced to 10 men a little after the hour, as James Milner picked up his second booking of the day, but equalised when Roberto Firmino took full advantage of a kicking error from Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

With a draw seeming highly likely, Benteke went down under the attention of Damien Delaney and, in the sixth minute of injury time, coolly sent McCarthy the wrong way from the spot to sicken the home faithful.

Palace remain without a Premier League win since a 2-1 triumph away to Stoke City on December 19, and the Eagles now sit just nine points above the relegation zone.

Jurgen Klopp’s side, following the midweek dismantling of Manchester City and Sunday’s dramatic triumph at Selhurst Park, move to within six points of the Champions League spots.

Up until Milner’s sending off, and the apparent resolve that was produced by being reduced in number, Klopp’s men had been largely outplayed in South London.

Early on, Simon Mignolet saved well from Yannick Bolasie at the end of a Palace breakaway, with Adebayor also testing the goalkeeper, before the Togolese striker struck the crossbar with a six-yard header from Pape Souare’s fine cross.

Yohan Cabaye and Scott Dann were others to take aim at the visitors’ target but Palace could not turn pressure and opportunities into a goal ahead of the interval.

However, when Liverpool failed to deal sufficiently with a Cabaye corner at the beginning of the second half, Ledley pounced on a loose Firmino touch to drive a left-footed strike inside the post from the edge of the penalty area.

The away side’s task was ostensibly toughened by the dismissal of Milner, as the former Manchester City midfielder slid in late on Wilfried Zaha, having earlier been shown a yellow card for a poor challenge on Cabaye.

It was Liverpool, though, that were by far the stronger of the two sides following Milner’s exit.

After Divock Origi had fired wide from close range, the Reds levelled thanks largely to McCarthy slipping and firing an attempted clearance directly to Firmino, who composedly placed a neat finish past the home ‘keeper.

Following his introduction, Benteke side-footed a decent chance straight at McCarthy and drew a good stop from the goalkeeper, either side of an angled drive from Alberto Moreno that came back off the inside of the far post.

A share of the spoils was on the cards but, deep into injury time, the trailing legs of Delaney and Benteke collided, allowing the Belgian to go to ground and send McCarthy the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.

Thanks to successive league victories, Liverpool can go into the first leg of their historic Europa League tie against Manchester United in a positive mood, while Alan Pardew’s Palace, on a dreadful run, must begin to consider the possibility of being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

By David Maher

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