Liverpool grafted a nervy win on Saturday, beating their bogey team Crystal Palace 1-0 in their Premier League tie thanks to a second-half strike from Sadio Mane at Anfield.
A 3-3 draw on the opening weekend at Watford had their title credentials questioned, but the Reds responded with a performance that suggested that there is hope for them still.
Jurgen Klopp made sweeping changes to his team, bringing in Daniel Sturridge, Andy Robertson, Ragnar Klavan and Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner for their first home game of the season.
Robertson, on his debut, was among the best players on the pitch and constantly caused Palace problems on the wing with his marauding runs and excellent swinging crosses.
Mane and Roberto Firmino were unable to find a away past Wayne Hennessey, with the Eagles putting in a disciplined performance after being humbled by Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town in their opener.
Frank de Boer’s side were playing in 3-4-3 formation, with former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke leading the line. Under the Dutch tactician, Palace were well organised in defence and while they didn’t see much of the ball, looked dangerous on the break.
James Milner, playing in midfield, had a chance early on but his shot from an angle was smothered by Hennessey and while Liverpool were the better team at the interval, the teams went to the dressing rooms with the scores deadlocked.
The Reds dominated the second half as well, but the best chance of the tie fell to Palace striker Benteke, who scuffed his lines from six yards after Ruben Loftus-Cheek had skinned Klavan and set him up for a simple finish. The Belgian inexplicably went for power, blazing over much to the relief of the home support.
Sturridge proved to be ineffectual and was taken off on the hour-mark, with club record signing Mohamed Salah replacing him as Klopp sought to inject some pace into Liverpool’s attack.
Liverpool did score, but it wasn’t the Egyptian rather his Senegalese teammate Mane, who would break the deadlock. Coming in from the left wing, Mane got lucky as the ball fell kindly and as he got inside the box, a layoff from Solanke was deflected into his path and he promptly put the ball into the back of the net in the 73rd minute.
The home side grew in confidence after finding the breakthrough and on any other day would have scored at least four, but Palace keeper Hennessey was in inspired form and determined to keep the deficit to a minimum.
It wasn’t a perfect performance from Liverpool, but the fact that they managed to keep a clean sheet and didn’t lose their patience despite being stymied for the most part of the game, will bode well as they host Hoffenheim in a crucial Champions League tie on Wednesday.
For Palace as well, there were plenty of positives but they have lost their opening two games now and de Boer will be under pressure to avoid an upset against Ipswich Town in their League Cup tie on Tuesday.
Manchester United had thrashed Swansea City 4-0 earlier on Saturday to go top of the league and there were plenty of goals elsewhere as well, as Leicester City beat Brighton 2-0, Southampton edged West Ham 3-2, Watford beat Bournemouth 2-0 and West Brom pipped Burnley 1-0.