Liverpool takes over the top spot in the standings with a thrilling comeback victory against 10-man Crystal Palace, thanks to Elliott’s winning goal scored in the final minutes of the game.

A rough and tense game of soccer; two penalty calls that were contested; a goal that was changed direction; several minutes of unproductive waiting while a man in shorts monitored a small screen. And then, at last, a moment of elegance that this match definitely did not warrant and Liverpool barely achieved. It was Harvey Elliott who made it happen, effortlessly maneuvering through the Crystal Palace defense like a dancer on water lilies, scoring the winning goal in extra time to secure another hard-fought three points for Liverpool. Against all odds, almost undetectably, they are now in first place in the Premier League, thanks to Arsenal’s loss to Aston Villa.

In the end, the only negative outcome was for Roy Hodgson, whose day was ruined. He had to apologize for his remarks earlier in the week, in which he stated that Palace supporters should show more appreciation. This match was a perfect fit for his persona as an underdog who is constantly beaten down. Palace executed almost everything correctly: they annoyed their opponents, defended well, and even scored on a counterattack. Until Jordan Ayew received a questionable second yellow card with 15 minutes left, they were on track for an impressive win.

However, Ayew’s ejection shifted the momentum of the game, leading to increased pressure from Liverpool and creating more opportunities for them to attack. Soon after, Mohamed Salah scored the equalizer and Jürgen Klopp’s strategic substitutions proved effective. Curtis Elliott’s late goal secured the win, but Liverpool also had goalkeeper Alisson to thank for his heroic performance in the 100th minute. Despite only taking two shots on target, Liverpool managed to score two goals.

However, there is still plenty of opportunity for the team to improve as they have aspirations of becoming champions. The atmosphere here was off, likely due to a mix of exhaustion, traveling, dissatisfaction, and a breakfast of fusilli. While the physical effort remained strong, the lack of imagination was concerning. In fact, my observations from the uneventful first half-hour were limited to just three points.

Quansah – bit nervous.

Ayew: clever player! Great appreciation of angles and weight distribution. Football’s Alan McManus?

If Darwin’s theory is true, then why has he not developed a mechanism to remain onside?

In summary, the content was not of high quality. Jarell Quansah, a 20-year-old player, seemed a bit nervous playing as a centre-half, but he was not the only one. There was a penalty awarded to Palace, but then it was overturned by VAR due to an earlier foul committed by Will Hughes. On the sideline, Hodgson spat onto his technical area in frustration. It was a chaotic game.

Jean-Philippe Mateta scores a penalty past Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson.

Klopp continued to make alterations and rearrange his players on the field. Salah briefly played as a forward while Darwin Núñez took a position out wide. At halftime, Trent Alexander-Arnold moved to the center of the field, taking the place of Wataru Endo who had been struggling. Quansah and Ryan Gravenberch were substituted before the 60th minute, but not before Quansah fouled and conceded a penalty that led to Palace’s lead goal by Jean-Philippe Mateta. This occurred when both players were trying to reach a cross from Hughes, with Quansah making a desperate tap on the ankle of his opponent.

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However, in the end, Liverpool had a greater variety of options to use. Cody Gakpo and Joe Gomez worked well together on the right side, while Elliott and Curtis Jones provided a burst of energy in the midfield. Mohamed Salah scored his 200th goal for Liverpool, a messy shot from a short distance after Michael Olise was unable to defend against a cross from Gakpo. As time passed, it seemed that a draw would be the best they could hope for. But then Elliott received a pass from Salah and found the composure and clarity needed to score amidst the chaos.

You had to feel a little for Palace, who amid a poor run of form, rotten luck with injuries and an increasing disconnect between the club and its supporters, showed plenty of resolve and fight. Their physicality earned them seven yellow cards, plus one for Hodgson himself, but they probably should have gone ahead early through Jefferson Lerma and could even have nicked a late equaliser through Joachim Andersen. Instead, they have gone even further backwards: no points, a suspension for Ayew and worrying injuries to Lerma, Édouard and Sam Johnstone.

Despite the challenges, Liverpool has managed to secure nine points in their past three games. It has been a difficult journey, reminiscent of a demanding military operation rather than a traditional sporting event. However, they continue to persevere. This week, they will face a relatively unimportant Europa League match before taking on Manchester United at Anfield next Sunday. This could be a pivotal moment in their season, which despite its ups and downs, may finally be ready to soar.