Crystal Palace 1, Liverpool 2
Selhurst Park, London
Liverpool scorers: Sturridge 49′, Lallana 58′
Palace scorer: Campbell 15′
*Simon Mignolet – 7.5
Made some key saves which kept Liverpool in the tie, and was commanding in his area more often than not.
Emre Can – 6
Goes wandering from his defensive station but you get the impression that this is part of the plan. As long as someone covers for him he’s a great attacking weapon from deep.
Martin Skrtel – 5
At fault for the Palace goal, and struggled with Dwight Gayle whenever he came up against him. Gave away a couple of unnecessary free kicks too.
Mamadou Sakho – 6.5
Solid defensively and composed in attack.
Lazar Markovic – 6
Withdrawn at half time but not for poor performance. was always an option down the right hand side, but just couldn’t quite find the final pass, and his one left foot shot drifted wide.
Jordan Henderson – 6.5
Good at knitting the play together, and played an excellent pass for Sturrudge to volley home Liverpool’s first goal. Pressed well right up until the final minutes.
Joe Allen – 7
Like Henderson, he was a vital part of Liverpool’s possession football. Constantly moving into space and giving his team-mates an option on the ball. His own passing was much tidier than in recent weeks.
Alberto Moreno – 6.5
Adam Lallana – 7
Scored Liverpool’s winning goal from a rebound off Speroni after a stinging Balotelli free kick. As soon as the Italian struck the ball Lallana was darting towards the keeper, and he got his reward, showing good technique to finish cleanly.
Philippe Coutinho – 6.5
Looks tired but still showed moments of class when he takes multiple opposition players out of the game with his dribbling and movement.
Daniel Sturridge – 6.5
Was poor in the first half, but showed his striking prowess with a well taken left foot volley from Henderson’s lofted pass. Should have had a penalty after he was fouled by Souare.
Mario Balotelli – 7
(Markovic HT) Was effective in most aspects of his forward play, from leading the line to dropping deep receiving the ball from midfield. Fired a powerful free kick at the Palace goal, causing their keeper Speroni to spill the shot, allowing Lallana to score.
Rickie Lambert – 6.5
(Sturridge 78′) Held the ball up well when required. Didn’t give the ball away once according to the statistics.
Dejan Lovren – 6
(Coutinho 79′) Another mistake-free performance, with some encouraging sings shown at right centre back, even if his passing can still be awkward for his team-mates to receive.
Whilst Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho were both stationed at centre back in Liverpool’s now familiar 3-4-2-1, they both, especially Can, made regular forays into the opposition half.
This occasionally led to what appeared to be positional indiscipline at the back, but with the recovery speed of Markovic, Henderson, Moreno, and Allen, this was more than likely an entirely intentional tactic.
Joe Allen was used to link play together in midfield, whilst Jordan Henderson played more of a box-to-box role.
Liverpool made a few tactical tweaks in the second half, beginning with the following shape to accommodate a second striker in the shape of Mario Balotelli. Adam Lallana drifted out to the right wing back role,, with Joe Allen becoming a single pivot in front of the defence.
Philippe Coutinho dropped from attacking midfield to become a central midfielder, whilst Henderson made runs from box to box, sometimes supporting Allen and covering Can, but mostly sitting next to Coutinho.
The arrival of the two other substitutes, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert, Saw Emre Can move forward into the right wing back position, with Adam Lallana moving back into midfield to replace Coutinho. Rickie Lambert took Sturridge’s place up front.