Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League as their star trio helped them to a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Anfield. Goals from Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and a Steven Gerrard penalty gave the home side a 3-0 lead at half-time that was always going to be enough to secure the three points despite a consolation goal in the final 15 minutes from substitute Dwight Gayle.
The result, the same score line by which they disposed of Sunderland last weekend, takes Brendan Rodgers’s side above Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table by a single point, albeit with the Gunners still to play West Brom on Sunday. It came off the back of a dominant first-half display from the Reds that again saw Suarez and Sturridge team up to devastating effect.
They proved too much for the newly-promoted visitors, who remain second from bottom in the Premier League, to handle. Rodgers, who again went with a three-man backline in the absence of Glen Johnson, was forced to do without the suspended Lucas Leiva as Jordan Henderson moved in alongside Gerrard. After the break, perhaps predictably, Liverpool’s intensity slipped and Palace came back into the match, although without seriously threatening a dramatic fight back.
Liverpool began strongly and got on the score sheet after just 13 minutes. Palace’s defending left something to be desired as Suarez fed Jose Enrique down the left side of the area before retrieving the Spaniard’s less than precise pull back and somehow finding the space, among three defenders, to squeeze in a shot as he lost his balance to beat Julian Speroni.
A second goal followed just four minutes later. Palace’s defense was caught all at sea with Sturridge turning Damien Delaney inside and out cutting into the penalty area from the left. Passing to one of his teammates in the middle never looked on Sturridge’s mind, a selfishness he justified with a powerful left-footed effort low into the far corner of the net.
And seven minutes before the interval, the victory was all-but wrapped up. As Raheem Sterling ran to try and get on the end of a return pass from Suarez, Palace defender Dean Moxey clearly tugged the winger back. The only question was whether the contact had been made inside the area, but Liverpool got the benefit of any doubt and Gerrard duly converted the spot-kick with authority into the corner. The strike put Liverpool’s skipper on 99 Premier League goals.
Liverpool dropped off in the second half, which may not unduly concern Rodgers, although he will be disappointed with the marking that allowed Palace’s big summer signing to pull a goal back. From Spanish substitute Jose Campagna’s in-swinging free-kick, Gayle was allowed a clear jump at the near post to flick a header past Simon Mignolet and into the far corner of the net. But the goal couldn’t prevent Liverpool from at least temporarily going top of the pile with an impressive five wins from their first seven matches.