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Outstanding Alisson keeps Liverpool's title hopes alive after Crystal Palace onslaught

3:25 am AEDT 24/1/22
Alisson Becker Liverpool 2021-22
The Reds' goalkeeper made a number of superb saves as they claimed a 3-1 win at Selhurst Park and closed the gap to Manchester City to nine points

Match statistics: Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool

The Premier League still has a title race, and for that we can thank Alisson Becker.

Liverpool believe their goalkeeper is the best in the world, and we saw exactly why at Selhurst Park on Sunday. 

"I said to him now, thank you for saving our backside again!" Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports after his side's 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, and no wonder. It was the Brazil No.1's brilliance which ensured the Reds picked up three nervous, hard-fought points in south-east London. 

For the first time in weeks, the gap to Manchester City at the top of the table is closed. At nine points, it is still a big ask, but Liverpool boast a game in hand, and they will be boosted by the return of key players by the time they return to league action next month.

The 2019-20 champions also, remember, have to visit the Etihad Stadium in April.

They had looked in cruise control at one point here, 2-0 up in a little more than half an hour and playing with authority, control and swagger. Virgil van Dijk had headed in an early opener before Oxlade-Chamberlain had added a superbly-crafted second.

Game over, it looked.

But Palace, who had looked bewildered to begin with, came roaring back, and at times in the second half it looked like Patrick Vieira’s vibrant, pacy side were about to squash the Reds’ dreams. 

Odsonne Edouard pulled a goal back, and had it not been for the reflexes and anticipation of Alisson, Palace might have won. The Liverpool goalkeeper saved his side.

He had already made big interventions in the dying stages of the first half, denying Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta as Liverpool were caught on the counter.

And after the break, he responded superbly to keep out Edouard’s close-range backheel, reading the striker’s intentions to make a stunning stop.

Then, with time running out and Liverpool clinging to their lead, Olise was played in over the top by Joachim Andersen. Alisson initially thought about coming off his line, but realised quickly he would never get there. So instead he backpedalled, a fine decision indeed as he was able to claw away Olise’s lobbed effort from just inside his post.

A few minutes later, Liverpool’s nerves were settled once and for all, referee Kevin Friend advised by Craig Pawson, the VAR, to award a penalty after Diogo Jota tangled with Vicente Guaita, the Palace keeper. 

It looked soft, and certainly not clear and obvious - hence the lengthy delay - but Friend, after a visit to the pitchside monitor, overturned his original decision. 

Fabinho, unbothered by the Palace fans’ boos, made no mistake from 12 yards and the travelling Kop could breathe again. For all the talk of Afcon, and the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, the Reds have won both their league games and made progress in both domestic cups in the past fortnight. The wheels have remained firmly on the train.

Salah and Mane, plus Naby Keita and perhaps Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott, should be back by the time Leicester City visit Anfield on February 10. The big guns back, for what promises to be a wild ride. 

They might not be at the level we saw a couple of seasons ago, but they are still in the hunt, still clinging on. 

And with their No.1 in this kind of form, they will take some beating.