James Milner saved by Liverpool teammates at Crystal Palace
Liverpool pulled off a late smash and grab at Selhurst Park to come from behind and win 2-1 on Sunday, despite James Milner's second yellow card reducing them to 10 men.
Few players did themselves justice on a difficult day against opposition who are notoriously dogged on their own ground. Christian Benteke has had a rough time of it at Anfield lately but stayed cool to convert the winning penalty.
The Reds rarely win when they don't fully deserve to, so could this reversal of fortune signal an overall change in their luck from now on?
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Simon Mignolet, 8 -- Made good saves, particularly one brave block at the feet of Yannick Bolasie, and his catching was assured throughout. Had no chance with Joe Ledley's goal but played a big part in keeping the visitors within sight of the comeback that eventually followed.
DF Jon Flanagan, 6 -- Slightly disappointing after his huge performance in the 3-0 win against Manchester City on Wednesday. He did very little wrong, however, and there was little Palace threat down his side of the pitch, but he contributed nothing to any attacking play. He was sacrificed on the hour for a more positive approach from Jurgen Klopp.
DF Mamadou Sakho, 7 -- Palace make life difficult for defenders and Sunday was no exception. Sakho kept close to his opponents early on, but overconfidence crept in and he almost paid the price on occasion. Solid enough, but for once not the best Liverpool centre-half on show.
DF Dejan Lovren, 8 -- That accolade fell to his partner, who gave a very strong performance particularly in a highly pressurised second half. Won most of his headers and stayed disciplined and focused throughout, getting even stronger when Liverpool were reduced in numbers.
DF Alberto Moreno, 5 -- Liverpool fans are still waiting for the penny to drop with Klopp. Nathaniel Clyne may have been missing but the Spaniard flat out refuses to rein in his more reckless tendencies, often conceding dangerous fouls. Battled well with Wilfried Zaha, but the free kicks given away could have proven fatal. Showed his better attacking qualities with a fantastic late strike near the end that hit the post and surely playing further forward is where his future lies?
MF Jordan Henderson, 5 -- Curiously unadventurous display. His high energy levels meant he could still contribute to attack as the game neared its end, but since Emre Can was already playing a defensive role it seemed overly cautious from the captain at times.
MF Emre Can, 7 -- Another good performance from the in-form German. Kept the ball moving in the first half, without any of his colleagues doing much with it. Slotted well into defence when Klopp changed the system to three at the back. Always prepared to charge forward and also ready to battle with an overly aggressive Palace midfield.
MF James Milner, 4 -- Reckless tackling has been a feature of his game all season and he was finally punished for it with two yellow cards. Klopp had just made an attacking substitution and Milner almost immediately wrecked Liverpool's chances of a comeback. He should be thankful for Palace's self-inflicted collapse.
FW Adam Lallana, 5 -- Back to his flaky, aggravating style after an immense midweek showing. He at least kept going and fared better once the Reds got their equaliser.
FW Roberto Firmino, 6 -- Like Lallana, much of his play was inconsequential before being gifted an easy chance to equalise against the run of play. Provided Divock Origi with very little support in the first hour and found the game generally far too fast for his liking.
FW Divock Origi, 6 -- Diligent as ever, yet one good shot just over the bar in the first half was his contribution. He was certainly not given anything like the support he should have had, even when Liverpool fell behind.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 7 -- Made a difference to Liverpool's play. Quick turns to face Palace's defenders and his close control and passing gave them far more to think about than before he came on.
FW Christian Benteke, N/R -- Appearing too late for a rating but the big Belgian won and scored the last-gasp penalty and became a Liverpool hero -- for a day at least. He did battle well for the ball even though he was usually outnumbered by the opposition. Will care not a jot about any debate over his tumble in the box.
Kolo Toure, N/R -- Probably sent on to protect the one point Liverpool had barely deserved, he made one or two clearances and remains a lucky charm for the Reds even when he features for such little time.
Steven Kelly writes about Liverpool for ESPN FC and has a weekly Liverpool column for The Irish Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.