Liverpool see off battling Crystal Palace to keep up with the early Premier League pacesetters

Liverpool’s James Milner celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game from the penalty spot.

Liverpool made it two wins out of two to keep up with the early pacesetters at the top of the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp’s side maintained their perfect start to the season with a 2-0 victory and they were helped over the line by the late dismissal of Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

It leaves the Reds second in the table behind reigning champions Manchester City as one of only six teams to have recorded maximum points so far.

Klopp resisted the urge to make changes to the side that crushed West Ham 4-0 on the opening day of the season.

There was no room in the squad for new signing Fabinho while Joel Matip had to settle for a place on the bench after returning to training following a hip injury.

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Roy Hodgson was able to include summer arrival Max Meyer among the Palace substitutes after he missed the London outfit’s victory at Fulham last weekend.

Palace players James Tomkins (C), Mamadou Sakho (L) and Luka Milivojevic (R) argue with referee Michael Oliver.

It was a decent first 45 minutes from the home side and Andros Townsend was desperately unlucky to see his stunning strike crash back off the crossbar.

The teams appeared to be heading in deadlocked at the break until disaster struck for Hodgson’s team right on the stroke of half time.

Mohamed Salah, who was a real livewire as usual in the Liverpool attack, went down under the challenge of former Anfield star Mamadou Sakho.

There was certainly contact but Palace protested it wasn’t enough to have sent the Egyptian tumbling. Referee Michael Oliver decided otherwise and pointed to the spot.

Oliver sent off Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

James Milner stepped up to emphatically slam home the penalty in what was a real hammer blow to the Eagles and Hodgson had to hastily tear up the team talk he had prepared.

Liverpool showed their maturity in the second period and new-boy Naby Keita really caught the eye with an all-action display in midfield.

The little Guinean is a real bundle of energy and rarely wastes possession.

Salah was unable to get on the scoresheet as he drew a rare blank for the visitors but he more than made his mark on the game.

It was his bursting run that left promising Palace defender Wan-Bissaka with no choice but to bring him down and promptly received his marching orders from Oliver.

Sadio Mane added the finishing touch.

It was always going to be difficult to get back into the match with 10 men but the hosts, to their great credit, never let their heads drop in search of the equaliser.

But as the Eagles flew forward they were left vulnerable to Liverpool’s lightning counter attack and Sadio Mane, assisted by Salah, added a crucial second at the death.

Was Michael Oliver right to award a penalty?

Crystal Palace’s Mamadou Sakho brings down Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in the area to concede the penalty

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports: “He could stay up, but why would he? Sakho is too tight.

“I don’t think Salah is looking for it. He’s thinking I’m going to shoot, but I don’t think he’s used the opponent to go down.

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Fellow Sky pundit Gary Neville added: “It’s a mistake by Sakho. It’s clumsy, he’s too late. But it is a theatrical fall, which we see a lot of players do.

“The ref’s view is perfect. There’s no doubt in Michael Oliver’s mind.”

Reaction from the managers

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson (left) and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool boss Klopp said: “We can play better football. It was a really intense first half so it wasn’t easy to make the right decisions.

“They had their moments. I know we have to play much better but tonight I’m absolutely fine with that.

“I am not interested in sending statement to Manchester City or anyone else. I want to win football games and that’s what we did tonight.”

Palace manager Hodgson: “I thought we pushed them very hard. I’m proud of the team’s performance.

“We gave them enough problems to think about and were unlucky to lose the game 2-0.

“Sakho is a defender. He has to try and defend. We were unlucky with the refereeing decisions tonight. I’m more interested in the fact that we played well over the 96 minutes.”