Liverpool were nowhere near their best but found a way to win as goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah saw them come from behind to sink Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The result saw them tighten their grip on third place with their two closest challengers Chelsea and Tottenham due to meet on Sunday.
This could be an extremely significant three points in the race to secure a top-four spot. The performance was flat but the players stuck at it and got their reward.
Adam Lallana’s miserable luck continued as he lasted only a few minutes before suffering yet another muscle injury. Having missed most of the season with a similar problem, Lallana looked set to play a crucial part in the run in but this injury may have put paid to that.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Jurgen Klopp avoided the temptation to rest players ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Manchester City and fielded the strongest side he could. Made a double change midway through the second half but had to then change it almost immediately when Lallana broke down. The introduction of Dejan Lovren and subsequent change in system was a risk but it worked.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Loris Karius, 6 — The German made a terrific stop to deny Wilfried Zaha but then conceded a penalty soon after when he collided with the same player. Produced a good save from a Patrick van Aanholt free kick after the break but was otherwise untested.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 — Endured a nightmare start when he was exposed by the same tactic that had found him wanting at Old Trafford recently. This time it was Zaha who was the beneficiary of it as he was repeatedly able to run inside the young full-back and collect flick-ons. To Alexander-Arnold’s credit he did not let it affect his confidence and he was excellent going forward, producing a series of tremendous crosses. Needs to work on his throw-ins though, he was penalised for one foul throw but that was just one of several borderline efforts.
DF Joel Matip, 5 — Didn’t get off to the best of starts as he struggled to deal with the power of Christian Benteke. Improved a little but never really looked completely comfortable and it will be interesting to see if he keeps his place ahead of Dejan Lovren for the Manchester City game on Wednesday.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 6 — So much in control that at times it looked almost too easy for the Dutchman. That may explain the moment of carelessness that could have resulted in a second goal for Palace had Benteke been sharper in front of goal.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 — Liverpool’s best player. Defensively diligent and always offered an outlet in attack. More often than not when he gets into a dangerous area he produces a quality delivery and it was from one of those that Salah scored the winning goal from.
MF Jordan Henderson, 6 — Saw a lot of the ball but didn’t do a great deal with it. Almost produced a couple of terrific crossfield passes but both were slightly overhit. His performance mirrored the team as a whole; nowhere near his best but did just about enough.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 — Typically ineffective away day for the Dutchman. Performances like this are pretty much standard from him now and it was no surprise that he was brought off midway through the second half. The bigger surprise is that he was selected to start in the first place.
MF James Milner, 6 — Up and down display from the experienced midfielder. Some of his passing was sloppy but his intelligence and movement is a valuable asset, and it was from his excellent run and cross that Mane was able to equalize.
FW Mohamed Salah, 6 — Palace did a fine job keeping him quiet for most of the game but it only takes one lapse for the Egyptian to pounce. That’s what happened on 86 minutes when neither of the Palace centre-backs were able to cut out Robertson’s cross and Salah kept a cool head to take a touch and then bury it for his 37th goal of a remarkable season.
FW Roberto Firmino, 5 — A subdued performance from the Brazilian who struggled to get into the game. Worked hard, as he always does, but struggled to find any space in the box and ended up dropping deeper and deeper to try and get on the ball.
FW Sadio Mane, 6 — Contentiously booked for a dive when he went down under a challenge from James McArthur in the first half, and could have been given a second yellow card when he deliberately handled after the break. In between those incidents he scored Liverpool’s equaliser with a neat finish. Klopp wisely replaced him after the handball offence as he was one more infraction away from a red card at that point.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 — Played his part in the winning goal but offered very little protection to Alexander-Arnold who was left isolated against the dangerous Zaha far too often in the closing stages.
MF Adam Lallana, NR — Only on the field a few minutes before he was forced off with what looked like another hamstring problem. This is a season Lallana will want to forget.
DF Dejan Lovren, NR — Somewhat surprisingly brought on to replace Lallana but the decision paid off as Liverpool went on to win the game.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN FC’s Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.