Football

Liverpool punish Palace with magnificent seven

EPL
CRYSTAL PALACE LIVERPOOL
0 7
  (Takumi Minamino 3, Sadio Mane 35, Roberto Firmino 44, 68, Jordan Henderson 52, Mohamed Salah 81, 84)

Liverpool ended a three-month wait for an away win in the English Premier League in comprehensive fashion with a 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace on Saturday (Dec 19) to move six points clear at the top of the table.

In an ominous sign for the challengers hoping to dethrone Juergen Klopp’s men as English champions, the Reds built on the momentum of a last-minute winner that beat second-placed Tottenham Hotspur in midweek. Jose Mourinho's men can reduce the deficit to three points, however, if they beat Leicester City on Sunday.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored twice at Selhurst Park, while Takumi Minamino, Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson also netted.

Klopp has repeatedly bemoaned having to play Saturday lunchtime kick-offs after Wednesday night games, but his side suffered no hangover from their exertions against Spurs.

Salah was given a rare rest from the start, but his Japanese replacement Minamino took just three minutes to open the scoring when he was teed up by Mane for his first EPL goal.

Palace had chances to get back into the game as Fabinho’s intervention just took Wilfried Zaha’s dangerous cross away from Jordan Ayew.

Ayew then wasted a glorious chance as he pounced on an uncharacteristic error from Fabinho, but tried to tee up Zaha rather than going for goal himself and played the ball behind the Ivorian.

At the other end, the visitors were ruthless as Mane ended his longest goal drought as a Liverpool player at nine games with an excellent turn and low finish from Firmino’s pass.

A clinical counter-attack made it three before the break as this time, Firmino latched onto Andy Robertson’s cross before calmly flicking the ball beyond Vicente Guaita.

Liverpool have already dropped more points this season than they had prior to sealing a first league title in 30 years last season.

However, Klopp’s men have so far survived an injury crisis and, with more players returning to fitness, are now in pole position to defend their title.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of those to have returned in recent weeks after a month out and the England international’s pass was swept home by Henderson from outside the box to make it 4-0.

Klopp then took the chance to give Mane a rest, but the Senegalese expressed his frustration at being removed to be replaced by Salah.

The Egyptian played his part for the fifth goal with the pass to Firmino, who has now scored as many goals in his last two games than his previous 27 EPL appearances.

Salah then moved to the top of the EPL goalscoring charts this season with a late double by heading home from a corner before bending an incredible effort into the top corner.

Victory ensured Liverpool will lead the league at Christmas for a third successive season and on this evidence will take some catching in the new year. – AFP

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