Liverpool 3 Crystal Palace 1 match report: SAS prove themselves an elite strike force

Suarez and Sturridge blow Eagles away in dominant first half to continue formidable goalscoring record together


The back page of the Liverpool Echo proclaimed “The Return of the King” – at the sight of Kenny Dalglish roaming the corridors of Anfield once more, this time as a director of the club.

It was, however, the return of the prince that captured the imagination of the old stadium yesterday. The last time Luis Suarez appeared at Anfield, it was against a London club, both he and Daniel Sturridge scored and Branislav Ivanovic had his arm bitten. This was much the same but without the teeth marks.

Suarez was announced like a boxer entering the ring for a title fight. They read his name out last, as they always do here, but this time it was: “Welcome back, Luuuisss Suarez.” He appeared on the pitch with his daughter, Delfina, and his 10-day-old boy, Benjamin, in his arms; something Carlos Tevez, another troubled, brilliant striker who played his football on the banks of the River Plate, used to do.

You might think this a rather fawning welcome for a man who had employed every available tactic to leave Liverpool in the summer and who in the deathless words of the chief executive, Ian Ayre, had “damaged the brand”.

However, this is to ignore the magic in his boots and the fact that he fills Liverpool’s No 7 slot almost as completely as Dalglish once did. The England manager Roy Hodgson, who had dashed over from watching Manchester City’s earlier game, sat alongside him in the directors’ box to watch Sturridge score and strike the post.

Liverpool stand top of the Premier League this morning and Dalglish’s second spell as manager has left little appetite for a third. In his first, in 1989, the Scot oversaw a 9-0 crushing of Crystal Palace, and just before the half-time whistle blew yesterday, it seemed that was a scoreline that might be emulated.

During the interval, Ian Holloway did not address his team on the pitch as Phil Brown once did with Hull City, but the Crystal Palace manager did send them out for a spot of extra training.

That determination not to be humiliated and some deeply lethargic and careless Liverpool play ensured that the goals did not pile up and Palace even scored when Dwight Gayle headed Jose Campana’s free-kick beyond Simon Mignolet. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was unusually downcast at the end and even kicked over some water bottles.

Nevertheless, the first half was a sometimes ridiculously one-sided affair. It began with the crash of smoke bombs and clouds of purple and black haze drifting over the away end, which resulted in at least one Palace fan being ejected. It might seem strange to travel the not inconsiderable distance between south London and Merseyside and then get yourself thrown out after a couple of minutes but perhaps he knew what was coming.

The opening goal showcased everything that is brilliant about Suarez. He was played in by Luis Enrique and then slipped. As he fell to the turf, with Damien Delaney attempting to block and Jason Puncheon almost on top of him, the Uruguayan somehow managed to propel the ball into the net. It was absolute box office.

Suarez  and Sturridge have already been touted as the most lethal Premier League partnership and certainly the former’s absence while banned had allowed Sturridge to blossom in a way he was seldom allowed at Chelsea. Liverpool’s second goalwas in its way even better than the first as Sturridge, on the left side of the Palace area, turned Delaney one way, then the other before arrowing a shot into the corner of Julian Speroni’s net. He was taken off a few minutes from the end but Sturridge will be fit for the games that will decide England’s World Cup qualification campaign.

Any prospect that Palace might salvage this match disappeared when Dean Moxey pulled back Raheem Sterling as he ran on to Suarez’s little looping chip. The linesman awarded the penalty, although Holloway questioned both whether it was a foul and whether it was inside the area. Steven Gerrard scored his 99th Premier League goal with the Kop singing his name.

There might have been a fourth before the interval as Suarez slithered through to find Victor Moses three yards out. Moses, the one striker Chelsea have let go who cannot find the net, proved it by striking the crossbar.


Liverpool (3-4-3): Mignolet; Toure, Skrtel, Sakho (Agger, 66); Sterling, Henderson, Gerrard, Luis Enrique; Moses (Alberto, 66), Suarez, Sturridge (Aspas, 88).

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Speroni; Ward, Mariappa, Delaney, Moxey; O’Keefe, Jedinak, Puncheon; Kebe (Gayle, h-t), Jerome (Campana, h-t), Chamakh (Bolasie, 68).

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Man of the match: Suarez (Liverpool)

Match rating: 7/10

Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game