Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah sent Liverpool top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace as they stole a march on Manchester City. 

A shaky start eventually gave way to the anticipated Liverpool control, which did not yield a goal until Mane’s close-range strike shortly before half-time, his 100th goal for the club in all competitions.

The Reds had to see out some dangerous forays forward from a Palace side that demonstrated plenty of attacking ambition. 

Yet moments beyond the opening minutes where Alisson was truly tested were rare, Salah making the game safe as Liverpool moved three points clear of City, who drew at home with Southampton, as well as Manchester United and Chelsea. Naby Keita added late gloss to the scoreline with a superb volley. 

Palace went agonisingly close twice in the first three minutes, Alisson scrambling to turn a goal-bound Wilfried Zaha effort onto the post after he had latched onto Conor Gallagher’s lofted ball into the box, before Christian Benteke then headed against the left upright, although replays showed the striker to be in an offside position. 

Vicente Guaita was forced into a fine save at the far post from Liverpool’s midweek Champions League hero Jordan Henderson, but the Reds initially struggled to make their dominance of possession count following Palace’s bright start. 

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Diogo Jota should have put Liverpool in front when the ball rebounded to him at point-blank range after Guaita repelled Thiago Alcantara’s header, however, he blazed a seemingly simple chance high over the bar. 

Mane made no such mistake two minutes before half-time as he was alert to tuck home the rebound and break the deadlock following Guaita’s diving stop from Salah’s near-post header. 

The busy Guaita produced a double save to deny Keita and Salah while at the other end Odsonne Edouard was let down by his first touch with a gilt-edged chance to restore parity. 

And the Eagles’ failure to find a leveller was punished 12 minutes from time when Salah settled matters by lashing home after Virgil van Dijk had flicked on Konstantinos Tsimikas’ corner, with Palace’s inability to defend another set-piece situation allowing Keita to add the finishing touch in some style. 

Vanguard News Nigeria

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