Jurgen Klopp has hailed his Liverpool players for coping with Crystal Palace’s physical approach as they beat the Eagles 2-0. The Reds were given a spot-kick on the stroke of half-time when Mohamed Salah went down under a clumsy challenge from Mamadou Sakho, a decision that infuriated the home side.
James Milner converted from 12 yards and then Sadio Mane made the game safe in stoppage time after Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off.
Klopp claimed not to see the penalty incident but was pleased his side came through a tough assignment in south London.
“I thought we could have done better, but we expected Palace to be that strong,” he said. “They were clear in their approach against us, playing the big number of long balls. I saw that in the warm-up from (Wayne) Hennessey and thought, ‘Wow, it’s going to be really difficult’.
“Defensively it was absolutely OK. The rhythm and timing was not good offensively, both full-backs need to open up their game a bit.
“I have no idea on the penalty, I can’t say more. Milly scored in the best minute of the first half.”
Given the onslaught Liverpool had to face, £75million defender Virgil van Dijk was a key performer and he earned the praise of his boss.
“Virgil’s performance was really, really good,” Klopp added. “Quality costs a specific price. Cars are like that. Lots of things are like that. Players too.
“Nobody thinks about that now, which is good. In this market at the moment, he’s at least worth it even if it’s not too cheap. He loves playing with these boys.”