Liverpool 1-3 Crystal Palace: Guess who's the free-kick maestro?
This match was always going to be about Steven Gerrard, making his final Anfield appearance (perhaps). As he prepared for a major change, Palace made several minor ones, their experimental line-up including Wayne Hennessey in goal, former Red full-back Martin Kelly at centre-back and Yannick Bolasie playing at centre-forward.
After the introductory farewells, Liverpool quickly settled into the story of their season: dominating possession without punishing opponents, and growing frustrated. But just as Palace started probing up the Kop End, Liverpool scored with the game's first shot on target. It came in the 26th minute when Adam Lallana chased down a poor defensive pass and lifted it confidently past the Welsh goalkeeper.
A scriptwriter would have included a free-kick goal at the Kop, but perhaps not for Jason Puncheon. Party-pooping Palace paceman Puncheon struck two minutes before the break; the left-footer struck from just outside the left post, curling it over the wall and into the far side, with Simon Mignolet a quizzical spectator.
If that wasn't in the Hollywood script, the turn of events on the turn of the hour was even more schlock-horror. Bolasie surged down the right and crossed for Wilfried Zaha to put Palace ahead, 23 seconds after coming on as sub. Five minutes later, as the visitors' pacy wide attackers continued to get round Liverpool's back three, Bolasie hit the crossbar.
Liverpool grew more frustrated, Palace more threatening, and as the game entered injury time Zaha was sent tumbling by Lucas. Mignolet saved Glenn Murray's penalty but the striker tucked home the rebound and Gerrard's Anfield era ended in yet more disappointment.
- Palace have now won two league games at Anfield. Alan Pardew played in the first (1991) and managed them in the second.
- Steven Gerrard made his final Premier League appearance at Anfield (P254 W156 D65 L33).
- In all, Gerrard has scored 69 Premier League goals at home, and recorded 51 assists.
- Adam Lallana's last two goals for Liverpool have been against Crystal Palace (also in FA Cup in February).
- Since the start of last season Adam Lallana has scored or assisted 23 Premier League goals, one more than Philippe Coutinho in that period.
- Jason Puncheon has hit 4 direct free-kicks in the Premier League this season and scored with 3 of them.
- Puncheon has scored from a direct free-kick in his last 2 games. The last player to do that was Wayne Rooney (September 2013, 3 games in a row).
- Wilfried Zaha scored with his first touch in the game. He was on the field for 23 seconds before finding the net (the quickest this season is Sammy Ameobi against Spurs, 8 seconds).
- Glenn Murray has scored 7 times and assisted 3 in his last 11 league games for Palace.