Following his side’s dramatic 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp revealed he was “not surprised at all” by how tough his side found the proceedings at Selhurst Park – and that they had to leave it late once again to secure the three points.
In perhaps the crucial event of the game moments before half-time, VAR disallowed James Tomkins’ opener from a Palace corner, ruling that Jordan Ayew had shoved Dejan Lovren in the build-up.
To rub salt into Palace wounds, Sadio Mané swivelled onto his left side to fire Liverpool ahead just four minutes after the break.
The effervescent Palace winger Wilfried Zaha looked to have earned the home side a share of the spoils, though, with a composed finish eight minutes from time.
However, just three minutes later, Roberto Firmino capitalised on a spot of old-fashioned pin-ball in the Palace penalty area by curling a left-footed effort inside the far post to break Palace hearts.
Mané and Firmino in particular will have breathed a long sigh of relief having each missed a guilt-edged opportunity before belatedly finding the back of the net.
Clearly, though, they weren’t the only ones feeling relieved after a tight victory.
In his post-match press conference, Klopp revealed that, regardless of the manner of the victory, it always “feels good” to earn one at Crystal Palace:
“I’m not surprised at all that it was tough, to be honest.
“You probably saw all my games [against Palace] since I’m in England, they were always similar. We just know it’s a tough place – the atmosphere is good, they don’t give up.
“Getting a result at Crystal Palace is something we never take for granted. It feels good.”
The German did admit, however, that his side could have played better, pointing to the international break as a possible reason they did not:
“We knew at half-time we had to do better.
“The challenge is that they come back from so many different national teams.
“So today I have absolutely no problem that we were not brilliant because in a game like this you just have to make sure that you fight for the right result. We were that from the first minute.
“Could we have played better? Yes, but we had players on the pitch that were on Thursday morning still in a plane back from Abu Dhabi, so that’s not too cool.”
While it was another narrow win for the league leaders, who retain their eight-point gap ahead of second-placed Leicester City, perhaps more of a mitigating factor for their lack of fluency was that they were without Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian forward missed his nation’s matches during the international break because of an ongoing ankle injury and was a doubt heading into Saturday’s league fixture, but he proved himself fit enough to be named among the substitutes, and was seen getting ready to enter the fray moments before Firmino struck the winner.
In bright news for the Reds, Klopp confirmed Salah is “all good,” and that he was indeed moments from bringing his talisman on:
“Mo is all good. He couldn’t train for nine days.
“He was with Egypt, went home, trained 60-70 per cent the day before yesterday, and was first time 100 per cent yesterday.
“We had to make the decision whether to start him or not. We didn’t start him, we were about to bring him on when we scored the winner.
“So we could rest him today. That’s really good. Wednesday he will be back.”