Sadio Mane punishes profligate Christian Benteke as Liverpool beat Palace

Premier League, Anfield - Liverpool 1 (Mane 73), Crystal Palace 0

Sadio Mane scored a second-half winner as Liverpool won their first game of their Premier League campaign and condemned Crystal Palace to a second straight defeat.
The Eagles' three-man defence held strong until the 73rd minute when the Liverpool forward capitalised on a mistake from Luka Milivojevic.
Substitute Dominic Solanke may claim his first Liverpool assist, but Mane owed more to Milivojevic who first gave the ball away inside the box then diverted the ball into the Liverpool forward's path.
Liverpool were also grateful to former striker Christian Benteke, who blazed over when presented with Palace's best chance of the match. The Belgian had scored five goals in his previous three outings as a visitor to Anfield, but endured a difficult day.
Andy Robertson starred at left-back on his Premier League debut for the Reds, while Daniel Sturridge featured in a much-changed line-up, with Jurgen Klopp clearly having one eye on the Champions League play-off with Hoffenheim on Tuesday night.
But it was the familiar face of Mane - so often the key man last season - who proved the difference as Liverpool continued their unbeaten start to the season. Meanwhile, Palace remain without a win under new boss Frank De Boer.
Christian Benteke shoots over for Crystal Palace against Liverpool
Christian Benteke shoots over for Crystal Palace against LiverpoolReuters

TALKING POINT

Makeshift Liverpool get the job done: Eyebrows were raised when Jurgen Klopp announced his team selection - the sight of striker Mo Salah on the bench was particularly worrying, while three changes in the back-line had even the most optimistic Red questioning the German's judgement. It worked out well, however, and the new look defence even looked half-convincing at set-pieces. The impressive performance of full-back Andy Robertson was perhaps most positive.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Andy Robertson (Liverpool): The former Hull defender had the beating of his marker Joel Ward throughout a hugely positive performance. Delivered countless crosses into the Palace penalty area and fulfilled his defensive duties. Surely keeps his place for the visit of Hoffenheim.

PLAYER RATINGS

Liverpool: Mignolet 7, Milner 6, Klavan 7, Gomez 7, Matip 7, Robertson 8, Henderson 7, Wijnaldum 6, Mane 8, Firmino 7, Sturridge 6. SubsLovren N/A, Salah 6, Solanke 6.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey 8, Fosu-Mensah 6, Tomkins 6, Dann 8, Ward 6, Van Aanholt 6, Milivojevic 5, Puncheon 6, Loftus-Cheek 7, Townsend 6, Benteke 5. Subs: Schlupp 6, McArthur 6, Kaikai 6.
Sadio Mane scores for Liverpool against Crystal Palace
Sadio Mane scores for Liverpool against Crystal PalaceGetty Images

KEY MOMENTS

8' - JUST WIDE! It's no great surprise that Liverpool don't cover themselves in glory in defending the free-kick. Tomkins is left unmarked but his header is inches wide. He should have done better as he was only a few yards out.
14' - LIVERPOOL MISS A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY! Milner takes a free-kick short, teeing up Robertson for a cross. The full-back finds Matip with an inch-perfect delivery but he inexplicably heads well wide with only the 'keeper to beat. Perhaps the presence of Mignolet put him off, but he should have scored. Half of the ground thought it was in...
34' - CHANCE! Again, Liverpool work the corner short. Robertson's cross finds Wijnaldum at the back post, but he can only chest it into the arms of Hennessey. Should have done better.
40' - SAVE! The space opens up for Firmino to have a shot and his effort from 20-yards has Hennessey at full-stretch to make the save. Finally, the Palace goalkeeper has been forced into action - and what a good stop it was.
41' - CHANCE! And from Hennessey's save, Palace launch a counter-attack with Loftus-Cheek teeing up Puncheon who sees his left-footed effort parried clear by Mignolet.
54' - WHAT A CHANCE FOR PALACE! Loftus-Cheek shows power and pace to brush off Klavan. He then pulls the ball back to Benteke inside the box, but the former Liverpool striker blazes his shot over the bar from eight yards.
56' - INCHES WIDE! Firmino cuts inside and tries to curl a shot into the top corner from 20 yards, but it's inches wide of the Palace goal. What a goal that would have been.
75' - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace. Finally, the Reds have the breakthrough - Sadio Mane is the man on the score-sheet for Jurgen Klopp's side. It's a scrappy goal, but Liverpool won't care one bit. They needed that and the relief around Anfield is tangible. The goal stems from Milivojevic's mistake. He is wrestled off the ball by Solanke and the ball fall fortuitously to Mane who keeps his cool to slide it home.
Liverpool's Sadio Mane (C) celebrates scoring their first goal with Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and team mates.
Liverpool's Sadio Mane (C) celebrates scoring their first goal with Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and team mates.Eurosport

KEY STATS

  • Sadio Mane has had a hand in five goals in six Premier League games against Crystal Palace (four goals, one assist).
  • Liverpool kept their first clean sheet against Crystal Palace in 14 competitive matches.
Sadio Mane punishes profligate Christian Benteke as Liverpool beat Palace  Sadio Mane punishes profligate Christian Benteke as Liverpool beat Palace Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 23:22:00 Rating: 5