Belfast Telegraph

Jurgen Klopp bemoans his first defeat as Liverpool manager with Crystal Palace loss

Liverpool 1 - Crystal Palace 2

By Staff Reporter

The Crystal Palace supporters chanted "you must be sick of us" as the sense that Liverpool would slither to their first defeat under Jurgen Klopp was too overwhelming to really contest the assertion.

After all but killing the Reds' title dreams in 2014 and wrecking Steven Gerrard's farewell from Anfield last May, Scott Dann's header with eight minutes remaining was the clincher for Palace.

The centre-half celebrated the goal like his life's mission had been completed.

Dann's intervention sucked the energy out of a Liverpool team that for all but two fixtures a season, he supports; a team, indeed, that made history by losing to Palace for a third league game in succession for the first time.

Klopp remained in his technical area, urging Liverpool forward. Earlier, when Philippe Coutinho had levelled after Yannick Bolasie's opener at the end of a fabulous move, he turned to those partying in the Paddock by high-fiving those sitting in the front row.

Now, with Palace ahead again, he was disappointed with the contrasting reaction behind him, admitting the early exit of fans made him feel "very alone" before adding that it was his team's responsibility to ensure nobody leaves the stadium prematurely.

"We decide when it is over," Klopp said, exaggerating that between the 82nd minute when Dann scored and the conclusion of injury-time, Liverpool could have plundered eight goals.

"Big decisions are made in moments when you are tired," he reasoned. "It feels so bad because it was so absolutely not necessary."

It must have already dawned on Klopp that his principal task is the undertaking of a relatively recent cultural shift that has scourged Anfield, one that dictates when it feels like Liverpool are verging on a bad result, it usually happens.

It had perhaps felt like a breakthrough had been made on the issue, considering the response when Mamadou Sakho fell writhing in agony and holding his knee towards the end of the first-half, with Liverpool already behind.

Though Sakho left Anfield on crutches and with his leg in a brace, he tried to carry on. Hearing the crowd sing his name, he gave it another go and somehow re-entered the pitch; his defiance proving an immediate inspiration because Coutinho pounced shortly afterwards.

That Sakho could not ultimately continue for more than a few more minutes was a devastating blow for Klopp who said he'd rather lose 4-1 than lose him for what could be a considerable period of time.

Alan Pardew, the Palace manager, was rather more positive about Liverpool's performance than Klopp.

Pardew conceded that his ambition was fortunate to be rewarded with a victory considering periods of intense Liverpool command, with Palace playing on the counter-attack.

Pardew, though, had recognised that Liverpool's Thursday night trip to Rubin Kazan posed an opportunity to expose fatigue. His conviction was illustrated by a bold selection policy - starting with two centre forwards with qualities than can unsettle entire defences.

It was quite clear that Bolasie and Bakary Sako must have been told to simply charge at their opponents every chance they had. In the opening 40 seconds, Sako set after goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who wanted to take his time switching the ball from one foot to the other; from there, the tone was set.

Bolasie's presence, as it was in each of Palace's previous triumphs over Liverpool, was significant once again.

Here, Martin Skrtel and Sakho attempted to re-address the power balance by separately cracking into tackles on the Congolese early on. Yet his movement occupied the minds of others.

For Palace's opening goal, he seemed to consume half of the pitch, with Alberto Moreno too worried by his position in-field to control properly, enabling Wilfried Zaha the space to deliver a cross aimed at, you guessed it, Bolasie.

From there, Emre Can made a mess of the clearance and Bolasie was able to turn before releasing a thumping shot that may have cut Mignolet in half had he been able to get near it.

Coutinho's equaliser came following a three-man sequence involving Jordon Ibe, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana and although Liverpool looked more likely to score again thereafter, Palace's strengths were Liverpool's weaknesses; Dann being able to win two headers from Yohan Cabaye's corner kick to force the ball over the line.

Dann, once a season-ticket holder at Anfield, must have dreamed of this happening.

Belfast Telegraph


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