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 By Dave Usher

Sadio Mane, rotated defence lead Liverpool past Crystal Palace

After knocking at Crystal Palace's door all game, Sadio Mane finally found a way through at Anfield.

It was not entirely convincing, but Liverpool did enough to pick up their first win of the season against a side they often have trouble with. Sadio Mane eventually broke the deadlock after 73 minutes and only a string of late saves by Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey kept the score close.  


A clean sheet was most welcome and Palace were restricted to only two real opportunities of note. The performance of debutant Andrew Robertson at left-back was also something for Kopites to feel good about.


The first half was rather flat and the tempo was too slow. That changed after the break and in the end the scoreline should have been more convincing, but Liverpool need to start games at a higher pace, particularly at Anfield.

Manager rating out of 10

7-- Jurgen Klopp rolled the dice with his team selection and made five changes. He would have taken a lot of flak for that had the result not gone his way, but the players he brought in generally performed well and the German's substitutions also had a positive effect.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Simon Mignolet, 7 -- Called into action just once in the first half, and he was equal to the challenge to deny Jason Puncheon. After the break, the sum total of his work was to confidently claim one corner kick.

DF Joe Gomez, 7 -- One or two misplaced placed passes aside, this was a fine display from the youngster who was drafted into the side in place of the rested Trent Alexander-Arnold. Defended well and was keen to join the attack whenever possible. 

DF Joel Matip, 7 -- Missed the best chance of the first half when he somehow failed to hit the target with a free header from close range. It's a common failing, and he really ought to score more goals. Defensively, he competed well against the physical Christian Benteke and had a generally comfortable afternoon.

DF Ragnar Klavan, 5 -- The veteran Estonian was brought into the side either because Klopp rested -- or possibly dropped -- Dejan Lovren. Generally solid but he was beaten far too easily by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and will have been relieved to see Benteke blaze the cutback chance over the bar.

DF Andrew Robertson, 8 -- Started very well on his debut and produced some sumptuous crosses that should have led to a goal. Almost got on the score sheet himself late on when he brought a fine save out of Wayne Hennessey in front of the Kop.  

MF Jordan Henderson, 7 -- Didn't quite have his radar working in the first half, and some of his passes were a little off, but the skipper was diligent in his work protecting the defence and snuffing out potential counterattacks. As with the rest of the team, he was better after the break and only a good save from Hennessey kept him from scoring.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 -- Saw a lot of the ball but didn't really do anything of note. Kept it simple, worked hard but made no lasting impression on the performance and looks to be the most vulnerable if and when Philippe Coutinho ever gets over his "sore back".

Just when it looked like Liverpool would be frustrated, Sadio Mane popped up and made the difference once again.

MF James Milner, 6 -- Began the game brightly and linked up well with Robertson down the left on a couple of occasions. Worked hard, got stuck in and used the ball well. He's never going to be the most dynamic of midfield players, but he won't let anyone down either.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- While Coutinho may be Liverpool's most talented player, Mane is their most important. Palace actually did quite a good job restricting the threat of the Senegal man, but it's almost impossible to keep Mane down for 90 minutes, and he will invariably do something, as he once again showed with the winning goal.  

FW Daniel Sturridge, 6 -- Looked very sharp early on and showed some lovely flashes of skill and control, but he faded as the game wore on, and it was no surprise that he was the first player substituted. Still, Klopp will be pleased to have him fit again, for however long it lasts.

FW Roberto Firmino, 6 -- Never looks as effective when utilised in wide areas and he was way below par in the first half, continually losing possession. Much improved after the break, particularly when moved into a deeper, central role following the introduction of Dominic Solanke. Went close with a rasping drive that went inches over the bar.


FW Mohamed Salah, 7 -- Very lively cameo from the Egyptian who had been left out of the starting lineup with an eye on the midweek clash with Hoffenheim. Almost scored with a brilliant curling effort that was saved at full stretch by the overworked Hennessey.

FW Dominic Solanke, NR -- Really caught the eye in his short time on the pitch, and only a good save from Hennessey denied him a goal on his home debut.

DF Dejan Lovren, NR -- Sent on for the closing seconds to help deal with the aerial bombardment.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.