Liverpool have struggled dealing with set pieces all season and Christian Benteke’s winner came from a corner. It was Benteke’s equaliser, though, that gave Allardyce the most satisfaction, with Yohan Cabaye exposing a gap down Liverpool’s left side – when both Liverpool full-backs had pushed forward - to deliver a cross for the Belgian to fire home in front of the Kop.
Palace’s 2-1 victory means they are now just one point from safety. In the last month Allardyce has overseen the defeats of Chelsea, Arsenal and now Liverpool. This was his first victory at Anfield in the league across three decades of management. He was in a confident mood.
“From start to finish we were exceptionally good tactically,” he said. “We came as underdogs and set out a game plan. With our limited possession, we exposed Liverpool’s weaknesses time and time again and that’s why we were able to recover. If you look at what Liverpool created from open play there was very little. Coutinho’s free-kick was a wonder goal.”
Allardyce was asked to clarify what me meant by Liverpool’s “weaknesses.”
“Liverpool play a superb attacking style,” he reminded. “It means both full backs go high up the pitch. [Joel] Matip and [Dejan] Lovren are very exposed. If you get the right runners, they are both big men that don’t like running towards their own goal. That’s how our equaliser came with Cabaye picking up space. Then our winner: Liverpool are pretty weak, having conceded six already from corners. Now it’s seven.”
While Allardyce spoke about mental resilience being instilled into his Palace team, Jürgen Klopp faced questions about the fortitude of his side. Champions League qualification appeared to be in Liverpool’s grasp with a relatively easy run of fixtures before the season concludes.
Klopp was frustrated that Philippe Coutinho was not awarded a penalty after being fouled by Martin Kelly inside the box during the second half, a moment that could have given Liverpool a 2-1 lead. The Brazilian reacted by staying on his feet and referee Andre Marriner waved play on. “I’m not sure whether punishing honesty and desire makes sense,” he pondered.
Klopp was critical of his defence too, stating that Benteke should not have been afforded the opportunities to score his eighth and ninth goals against Liverpool since 2012.
“Christian Benteke is an outstanding striker,” he reasoned. “But we left him alone for the first goal and that makes no sense. For the second goal only one player reacts. That player was Christian Benteke.”
He confirmed that Adam Lallana should return to his squad for Liverpool’s next game at Watford. By then both Manchester clubs play twice and it is possible Liverpool will have been relegated out of the Champions League positions.