A penalty, which was virtually the last kick of the game by Belgian striker Christian Benteke, gave Liverpool a breath-taking 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.

 

The late replacement went down in the box following the slightest of contact from the knee of the Eagles centre-half Damien Delaney; the Irishman's knee clipped Benteke's ankle, deep into stoppage time at the death, and referee Andre Mariner, relying on his assistant Scott Ledger, deemed it to be enough to award the visitors the match-winning spot-kick. The Belgian then produced a stuttering run-up and slotted home the penalty to seal the win.

 

The home side led deservedly, just three minutes after the interval through Joe Ledley's goal, as Liverpool's James Milner was sent off for a second yellow card fifteen minutes later - Palace thought they were on their way for their first win in 2016.

 

However, a costly slip by stand-in Palace keeper Alex McCarthy allowed Liverpool’s attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino to equalise – the Brazilian, who is the most in-form player of 2016 (with six goals and four assists), added another to his growing tally for the season, with eighteen minutes remaining.

 

But then there was the controversial Benteke’s dive in the 96th minute, which ensured the injury-time penalty kick and win for the visitors; Palace manager Alan Pardew, and all of their fans, were furious and reckoned the decision was unfair.

 

The defeat has devastating connotations for the Eagles having dropped to their season-lowest position of fifteenth, nine points above the relegation zone. They are now without a win in 12 Premier League matches, a run stretching back to mid-December; they are still the only team without a Premier League victory in 2016. However, they will be playing their first FA Cup quarter-final in 21-years on Friday.

 

The last night’s result boosts Liverpool up to seventh in the table; as Adam Lallana was  nominated the-man-of-the-match, his club celebrated yet another victory after their superb 3-0 midweek win over Manchester City at Anfield. They are now facing Manchester United at home, in the first leg of their Europa League match on Thursday. #Football