Mohamed Salah was engulfed in a diving storm as the Liverpool star won the controversial penalty that inspired their 2-0 win over 10-man Crystal Palace on Monday.
Salah was accused of diving by Palace when he tumbled in the penalty area late in the first half at Selhurst Park.
Referee Michael Oliver awarded a spot-kick for Mamadou Sakho’s challenge on the Egypt winger and James Milner converted the penalty.
Adding insult to injury for Palace, Salah was involved in another controversy in the second half when he went to ground after a challenge from Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was sent off even though there was minimal contact.
Taking advantage of their numerical superiority, Jurgen Klopp’s side then made sure of extending their 100 percent start to the Premier League season thanks to Sadio Mane’s goal in stoppage-time.
After Manchester City’s swaggering demolition of Huddersfield on Sunday, it was important for Liverpool to keep pace with the champions, even at this early stage of the season.
This was a statement win for Klopp’s team, installed as City’s most likely challengers, and they move into second place after building on last weekend’s rout of West Ham.
Palace have had a habit of upsetting Liverpool in recent years, famously denting their title bid late in 2014 and winning three times at Anfield over the last four seasons.
Roy Hodgson’s well-drilled team did a good job of frustrating Liverpool at times, but the Reds kept their composure to grind out an impressive win.
Salah finally evaded the Palace defence when he surged onto Naby Keita’s long pass, but the Egyptian’s chip sailed high over the bar.
Andros Townsend came within inches of giving Palace the lead against the run of play when his cut in from the right flank and unleashed a superb 25-yard strike that cannoned off the crossbar.
Andrew Robertson should have broken the deadlock when he seized on Salah’s cross 10 yards from goal, but the Liverpool defender’s woeful shot flew high into the stands.
– ‘Cheat’ chants –
Klopp’s men finally made the breakthrough just seconds before half-time.
Roberto Firmino’s pass found Salah just inside the Palace area and when Sakho caught him with an out-stretched leg, the Egyptian’s slightly delayed tumble didn’t dissuade referee Michael Oliver from giving the penalty.
Salah has previous for diving and incensed Palace fans were quick to aim “cheat” chants at him, but there appeared just enough contact to warrant the spot-kick.
Milner, ignoring the sound and fury, nervelessly sent Wayne Hennessey the wrong way with his spot-kick.
With Loris Karius set to join Besiktas on loan after Klopp lost faith in the German following his Champions League final blunders, his replacement Alisson Becker showed why Klopp splashed out to sign him from Roma in the close-season.
After Wilfried Zaha’s run earned a second half free-kick in a dangerous position, Palace captain Luka Milivojevic whipped the set-piece goalwards, only for Alisson to make a superb save low to his left.
Palace weren’t making it easy for Liverpool and Salah, after surrendering the ball too easily, epitomised the effort levels required to seal the points as he sprinted back tenaciously regain possession.
Salah didn’t tire despite that prodigious work-rate and it was his blistering break that induced the lunge from Wan-Bissaka which triggered his red card.
The young full-back, who had been left alone as the last line of defence, hardly made contact with Salah, but again Oliver ruled in Liverpool’s favour.
Palace appealed in vain for a late penalty when Georginio Wijnaldum’s nicked the ball away from James McArthur.
Senegal winger Mane put the result beyond doubt when he sprinted clear, rounded Hennessey and slotted home.