Liverpool’s title hopes hit by loss to Palace

Eberechi Eze scored the only goal of the game

Andy Robertson insisted Liverpool “keep fighting” despite their Premier League title hopes suffering a huge blow as they fell to a 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace at Anfield.

Eberechi Eze converted from Tyrick Mitchell’s cut-back to finish off a flowing Palace move early on, and the visitors were deservedly in front at the break.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds ramped up the pressure in the second half, but, just as in recent games against Manchester United and Atalanta, their finishing let them down as they fell to their first league loss at home since October 2022.

Defeat leaves Liverpool two points behind leaders Manchester City and level on points with Arsenal before the Gunners’ game against Aston Villa later on Sunday.

“I think we are always still in it. We are still there,” Liverpool full-back Robertson told Sky Sports. “We will keep fighting, keep going to the end, and let’s see where it gets us.

“With six games to go, we will give it everything we have. The problem is that there’s two world-class teams doing it as well, and that’s the difficult part.”

Palace started brightly and led through Eze’s well-worked opener, before a slip from Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk gave Jean-Philippe Mateta a golden opportunity to double their lead.

The striker was clean through and lifted his effort past the returning Alisson Becker, but Scotland skipper Robertson sprinted back to hook the ball off the line.

Liverpool rallied and Wataru Endo struck the bar after Palace failed to deal with a corner before Dean Henderson made a fine reaction save to deny Luis Diaz.

Oliver Glasner’s Palace retained a threat on the counter-attack until the break but were largely penned inside their own half in the second 45 minutes.

Henderson made another superb stop from Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota’s close-range effort was blocked by Nathaniel Clyne, with the goalkeeper nowhere to be seen; and Curtis Jones somehow sliced wide when through on goal.

Mateta did have another big chance to score the visitors’ second from a rare Palace attack but Alisson made a remarkable save from point-blank range.

Liverpool kept pushing for an equaliser but could not find a way through, with Mohamed Salah’s goalbound effort from inside the six-yard box blocked by Mitchell in stoppage time.

The Reds are now left to reflect on a potentially decisive loss with just six matches remaining in the league campaign.

Nightmare week leaves Reds’ season on brink

Liverpool headed into last Sunday’s match at Old Trafford two points clear at the top of the league table and favourites to win the Europa League.

A week on, and both trophies appear to be slipping out of their grasp.

If there has been a common theme across the three games in the past seven days, it has been the Reds’ profligacy in front of goal.

At Manchester United and against Atalanta, they created countless chances, and it was no different against Palace, especially in the second half.

Once more, though, they lacked the ruthlessness to make them count.

Even after a lacklustre first-half showing, Liverpool did more than enough to win the game, but the crucial final touch deserted them.

“In more than 20 years, when you watch my teams, the press and counter-press are pretty good, and on some days they are outstanding,” Klopp told BBC Match of the Day.

“In the first half, it was nothing, and then we were 1-0 down. I would say that with the chances we had, we were really unlucky.

“You could stand here on another day and see the same balls go in, and we’re talking about a 4-1 win, but football doesn’t work like that.”

With six league games and a Europa League second leg still to play, all is not lost, but if Liverpool are to deliver a fairytale ending to Klopp’s time in charge, they will have to be perfect from here.

However, even that may no longer be enough.

Palace show glimpse of exciting future under Glasner

While Liverpool will rue their missed chances, Palace might rightly argue they could have had the game wrapped up before the majority of them arrived.

This was a highly impressive showing from Glasner’s side – particularly in the first half, when they sensed their hosts’ vulnerability and took advantage.

Eze continued to find pockets of space from which to hurt Liverpool and Mateta did all he could to make life as uncomfortable as possible for Ibrahima Konate and Van Dijk.

It was the tenacity and class of Adam Wharton that really shone through. Alongside Will Hughes, the 20-year-old repeatedly harried Liverpool’s midfielders, won the ball back and picked the right pass.

After the break, it was the turn of Palace’s defenders and Henderson to come to the fore.

Joachim Andersen, the only recognised centre-back in the visitors’ XI, was supreme in marshalling a back three that also contained full-back Clyne and midfielder Jefferson Lerma.

Liverpool could undoubtedly have been more clinical but Palace made it as tough as possible for them by throwing bodies in the way of every shot.

On the occasions a defender could not make a block, Henderson was there to save – with his positioning and reactions enabling him to make numerous unlikely stops.

“We can say we did it our way, you can always lose here, but it’s about being able to express yourself and play with confidence,” Glasner told Match of the Day.

“We cleared many situations under pressure with one, two touch. We scored an amazing goal. It’s about confidence, team spirit, passion.”

A first league win since Glasner’s first game in charge at the end of February was one to savour, with more than enough to tantalise Palace fans about what the future may hold under the Austrian.

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