LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp lamented Liverpool’s defending after their top-four hopes were hit by Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Anfield.
Former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke, who left in the summer, scored twice to give Palace three points that all but secure their Premier League status.
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Philippe Coutinho had given Liverpool a 24th-minute lead with a long-range free-kick, but Benteke was left unmarked to level before the break and then took advantage of confusion at a corner to score the winner 16 minutes from time.
“Christian Benteke is an outstandingly good striker and there’s no doubt about it, but if you leave him alone like we did around the first goal then I am not sure he needed all his skills for this goal,” Klopp told his postmatch news conference.
“A lot of strikers maybe would fail in a moment like this because it was probably not the easiest [chance], but we left him alone and that makes no sense.
“The second one, that’s our mistake and nobody else is to blame for it.
“We gave them the opportunity out of nothing to score the first goal. One long ball, one cross and Benteke alone in the box — there is no excuse. You could see immediately their confidence grew.
“We did it again out of nothing — we gave the corner away. I know how often we spoke about set-pieces but if we hit the ball [away] at the first post, then it’s a bad corner.
“We didn’t hit it, so it’s a goal, that’s how it is. It made the game not easy.”
Palace boss Sam Allardyce said his side had exploited Liverpool’s frailties and added: “Liverpool, at home, play a superbly attacking style, which means both full-backs will go right up the pitch.
“It means that [Joel] Matip and [Dejan] Lovren are very exposed.
“If you get the right runners in behind then the two big men don’t like turning and running back towards their own goal, which is exactly where Yohan Cabaye [who crossed for the first Palace goal] came in today.
“The ball over Lovren’s head to Cabaye completely left those two centre-halves for dead and the ball to Christian Benteke was absolutely outstanding.
“On the corners, everybody knows Liverpool are pretty weak. They’ve conceded six [goals] off corners, which we told the lads about. It’s now seven off that corner that’s got us the winner.”
Palace winger Andros Townsend, who took the decisive corner, told Sky Sports. “We have made a habit of upsetting the big teams and have done it again thanks to the big man.
“We are almost there. Never say never, but we can start looking up the table and seeing where we can finish.”
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was not part of the squad on Sunday due to a recurrence of his hip injury, a source told ESPN FC.
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.