Mohamed Salah dive row as Liverpool beat Palace
Reds make it two wins out of two with controversial win in south London
Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2
Mohamed Salah was accused of diving as Liverpool edged past the Eagles in a gritty encounter at Selhurt Park.
The Egyptian king failed to score but was the centre of attention as earned his side a controversial first-half penalty, drew a red card for Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the second half and then set up the crucial second goal.
Anger and disappointment
The critical penalty came at the end of the first half when Salah took a tumble in the Palace box under a challenge from Mamadou Sakho.
James Milner slotted the spot kick past Wayne Hennessey but, in the Sky Sports studio, analyst Gary Neville couldn’t believe what he had seen: “A lot of people won’t like it,” he said. “If it’s against you, you’ll think it’s soft. It is a theatrical fall which we’ve seen a lot of players do.”
Palace boss Roy Hodgson was furious with the theatrics of Salah, saying after the game: “My frustration is I don’t think that’s a penalty. It’s cause for anger and disappointment. I’ve been in football a long time. If that’s a penalty the game has changed beyond all recognition. Sakho is a defender and he has to try and defend. There is no way he is looking to foul the player. Liverpool didn’t deserve to be leading.”
To make matters worse for the home side. referee Michael Oliver sent off Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the second-half for fouling Salah as he raced through on goal. Liverpool then sealed their victory in stoppage time thanks to Sadio Mane’s breakaway goal that saw the Sengalese run 50 yards before rounding Hennessey.
Unlucky to lose
It was Eagles’ first defeat in the Premier League in seven matches, since they lost 2-1 to Liverpool on March 31, and despite the result Hodgson expressed his satisfaction with the character shown by his players. “I thought we pushed them very hard,” said Hodgson. “We should have come in at 0-0 at half-time and the second half would have been even tougher. We gave them enough problems and we can consider ourselves unlucky to lose 2-0.”
Couldn’t care less
For the Reds, it was one of those tough matches that go a long way towards winning titles. It wasn’t pretty and the visitors struggled to find their rhythm, and the fact that Virgil van Dijk was man of the match says it all. “I don’t know a lot of centre-backs in the world who can deal with Christian Benteke like Van Dijk did,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
The win means Liverpool are one of five clubs to have taken maximum points from their first two games and Klopp had to deal with the inevitable question about the Reds’ title credentials. “I couldn’t care less really,” he retorted. “We are not in a race with other Premier League teams each weekend... I am not interested in sending statements to Manchester City or anyone else. I want to win football games.”