Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Reds End Palace Hoodoo

When Liverpool were drawn away to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, thoughts turned to the past two meetings which saw Palace come from behind to dent Liverpool's title hopes in a 3-3 draw last April before sealing a 3-1 win earlier this season.

A few enforced changes from the Swansea win saw the injured Steven Gerrard and cup-tied Jordon Ibe drop out of the squad to be replaced by Joe Allen and Adam Lallana while Daniel Sturridge started back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Liverpool looked to make a good start with Lazar Markovic sweeping in a cross in the third minute but when the ball found Daniel Sturridge, he flicked an effort over the bar. Crystal Palace's first chance proved to be an important one as they opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a lofted pass from Joe Ledley to Dwight Gayle forcing Simon Mignolet to deny the striker but the ball fell kindly to Fraizer Campbell who slotted into the empty net.

The visitors pushed to draw level with efforts from Adam Lallana, Phillipe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson all denied by a run of fine saves by Julian Speroni who kept his side ahead. However, Palace could have extended their lead in the final minutes of the first half as Dwight Gayle advanced on goal before being denied by a superb tackle and save from Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool made a half-time change with Lazar Markovic departing for Mario Balotelli but it was the hosts started the half the better with Jason Puncheon powering a shot over the bar before Liverpool equalised in the 49th minute. Jordan Henderson clipped the ball across goal to the unmarked Daniel Sturridge who fired past Speroni for 1-1.

Dwight Gayle looked to regain the lead for Palace but was thwarted by a superb tipping save from Simon Mignolet whose stop proved to be vital just six minutes later when Mario Balotelli was fouled on the edge of the Palace area before sweeping in a free-kick which despite drawing a save from Speroni, found Adam Lallana on the rebound to put the visitors in front.

Palace;s best effort to draw level came from a dangerous cross from Fraizer Campbell which Simon Mignolet claimed before Dwight Gayle swept over a free-kick in added time as Liverpool ended their miserable run at Palace and in doing so sealed a place in the last eight of the competition.