Crystal Palace vs Liverpool match report: Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge secure FA Cup progress for Liverpool

Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2: The visitors had to come from behind after Frazier Campbell opened the scoring

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Liverpool have waited a long time to avenge the famous FA Cup semi-final defeat of 1990, which Alan Pardew's goal won for the underdogs Crystal Palace, and here they fought back admirably from conceding an early goal to do so. Bad memories of their last two visits - a costly 3-3 draw in April and a 3-1 defeat before Christmas - were also put behind them on a ground where they had not won on any of their last six visits since 1997.

Even with a Europa League tie against Besiktas to come in midweek, Brendan Rodgers could not be accused of downplaying the Cup, commendably fielding his strongest available team. It was one without the injured Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling and if there were familiar concerns about the side's defending, a commitment to attacking enabled them to overturn Fraizer Campbell's goal with a pair of their own by Daniel Sturridge, a prolific Cup scorer, and Adam Lallana soon after half-time.

The winner owed something to the enigma that is Mario Balotelli, whose well struck free-kick brought it about, four days after his first Premier League goal against Tottenham. Liverpool are now unbeaten in 16 games and Gerrard must be dreaming of a Cup Final appearance on his 35th birthday to bid the club a winning farewell.

 

Rodgers felt the defeat here in November was “the making of us”, before which his team had “no pace and penetration”. They have added both, albeit more so with Sterling in the side and here the manager felt able to add: “For us to get the victory like we did, creating a lot of chances, was very, very pleasing. Huge credit to the players and a great week in terms of results. They showed great composure on a difficult pitch.”

A disappointed Alan Pardew said: “We didn't put enough pressure on Liverpool. We know inside the dressing-room that we should have done a bit better. The goal made us a bit negative and we sat back a bit. We only had control for minimal periods and I think Liverpool deserved to win.”

With Pardew's Newcastle also having beaten Liverpool this season, the home team were well briefed and their tactics frustrated the visitors for much of the first half, even as Liverpool dominated possession. Joel Ward, nominally a full-back, was used as a man-marker on Philippe Coutinho, while lively wide men Yannick Bolasie and Dwight Gayle tried to keep pressure on the attack-minded wing-backs.

Campbell.jpg
Frazier Campbell celebrates scoring for Crystal Palace

Their pace was all the more important once Palace scored and then set out to play on the counter. The goal followed a throw-in on the right. Gayle sprinted from the left down the middle in pursuit of Joe Ledley's lofted pass, which reached him via a misplaced back-header by Martin Skrtel. Simon Mignolet did well to parry Gayle's header but the ball fell perfectly for Campbell to score with a side-footed volley.

By half-time there was only one other signifcant Palace chance, albeit a good one: Skrtel was again at fault, involuntarily jabbing Bolasie's pass into the path of Gayle, who was thwarted at close-range by Mignolet. Julian Speroni was busier, making a fine low save from Lallana, and then the man who had set him up, Jordan Henderson. There were strong and possibly deserving shouts too for a Liverpool penalty when debutant Pape Souare appeared to take more of an aggrieved Sturridge than the ball. “One hundred per cent a penalty,” said the Liverpool striker.

Balotelli, replacing Lazar Markovic at the interval, did not have anything to do with his team's quick equaliser but was instrumental in helping them take the lead a few minutes later. First, Henderson's perfect chip from the inside-right position allowed Sturridge to drift in between the inattentive Martin Kelly and Scott Dann for a smartly struck left-footed volley.

Next Balotelli drove a 20-yard free-kick low through a gap in the Palace wall forced open by Skrtel, and Speroni could only parry it to the feet of Lallana for a tap-in.

Pardew was right that his team were unlikely to survive the second half sitting as deep as they did and when the scoreline meant they had to come forward in greater numbers, the game was the all the better for it. But they were rarely close to an equaliser as Liverpool sent on Dejan Lovren to tighten up the defence and Rickie Lambert to keep Palace pushed back.

“We were at a real low point,” Rodgers said of the November defeat. “From that point it's been incredible.” Now back to Europe.

Adam-Lallana-2.jpg
Adam Lallana scored the match winner

Line-ups:

Crystal Palace: (4-4-1-1) Speroni; Kelly (Guedioura, 63), Hangeland, Dann, Souare; Bolasie (Zaha, 72), Ward, Ledley, Gayle; Chamakh (Puncheon, 45); Campbell.

Liverpool: (3-4-3) Mignolet; Can, Skrtel; Sakho; Markovic (Balotelli, 45), Allen, Henderson, Moreno; Lallana, Sturridge (Lambert, 78), Coutinho. (Lovren 79)

Referee: Robert Madley

Man of the match: Henderson (Liverpool)

Match rating: 7/10

Comments