Football

Klopp delighted as Liverpool run riot over Palace to close in on title

EPL
LIVERPOOL CRYSTAL PALACE
4 0
(Trent Alexander-Arnold 23, Mohamed Salah 44, Fabinho 55, Sadio Mane 69)  

It should have been a night when a packed Anfield celebrated why Liverpool are set to win the English Premier League but, after a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, Juergen Klopp said his players had created their own atmosphere in front of an empty Kop.

The first game at Liverpool’s home since the Covid-19 stoppage, brought four superb goals as Klopp’s side moved within two points of securing their first league title in 30 years.

“Imagine if this stadium would have been full today and all the people could have experienced it live,” said Klopp, whose side would be crowned champions on Friday morning (June 26, Singapore time) if Manchester City fail to win at Chelsea.

“I don’t think the game could have been better because my boys played like everybody was in the stadium. The atmosphere on the pitch was incredible,” he said.

Goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane, each special in different ways, helped Liverpool open up a 23-point gap at the top of the table.

Klopp was able to bring back Salah and Andy Robertson, after resting both in that 0-0 draw at Everton, and the champions-elect were much more like their old selves as Palace struggled to keep the score respectable.

The Eagles arrived at Anfield on the back of four consecutive league wins, but any attacking threat they posed was greatly diminished once Wilfried Zaha limped off injured after just 15 minutes.

GOAL RUSH

Zaha’s absence allowed Alexander-Arnold free reign to attack down Liverpool’s right but it was from a set-piece the England international truly showed his class.

The right-back curled a sumptuous free-kick beyond the grasp of Wayne Hennessey to settle any nerves on 23 minutes.

Jordan Henderson then struck the post and Virgil van Dijk’s follow-up effort was blocked on the line by Joel Ward as the hosts began to find their rhythm.

Salah’s dynamism was badly missed in a static performance at Goodison and the Egyptian showed the clinical touch Liverpool lacked on Sunday to control Fabinho’s excellent ball over the top and slot home his 21st goal of the season just before half-time.

Fabinho’s piledriver set the seal on a 23rd straight league win at Anfield as the Brazilian drilled home from about 30 metres.

The front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane have been key to Liverpool’s rise over the past three years under Klopp from struggling just to qualify for the Champions League to winning that competition last season and now running away with the English top flight.

All three combined beautifully for the fourth 20 minutes from time as Firmino fed Salah, whose pass picked out the run of Mane and the Senegalese slotted into the far corner.

"I liked the game so much,” Klopp said. “4-0 up in the 87th minute and four players chasing one Crystal Palace player like it’s the only ball in the world, I like it so much, wonderful result and a wonderful game.

“The way they played, the passion we showed was so exceptional, there was moments that I couldn’t believe it.

“On the pitch, I don’t think we’d have done better with a crowd, I don’t think we can do better. I’m so happy that we showed that we do it for the people even when they’re not really here. In this moment I am in a really good mood,” the German added.

Klopp will be watching City’s match at Chelsea which could end the club’s long wait for an EPL title but which could also, if City win, set up Liverpool’s July 2 game against Pep Guardiola’s side perfectly.

“I have to watch the game tomorrow because we play them one week later,” Klopp said. “That’s being professional and doing my job.” – REUTERS, AFP