LONDON (AFP) – Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana scored second-half goals as Liverpool hit back to win 2-1 at Crystal Palace and claim a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
The Merseysiders had not won at Selhurst Park since 1997 and they were on course for another defeat after Fraizer Campbell’s first-half goal put Palace ahead.
But Brendan Rodgers’s side completed a turnaround thanks to two goals in nine minutes from Sturridge and Lallana.
Victory was the least Liverpool deserved and it means captain Steven Gerrard, absent with a hamstring injury, still has a chance of bringing down the curtain on his 17-year Anfield career with some silverware.
As a player, Palace manager Alan Pardew scored the south London club’s winning goal in an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in 1990.
Plotting a repeat as a manager, albeit at the fifth-round stage, was always likely to prove to be a very different task, but after naming a strong side, he saw Palace take a 15th-minute lead.
Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel will take his share of the blame as he could only help a lofted pass from Palace midfielder Joe Ledley into the visitors’ penalty area with his head.
Although Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet came out quickly to block Dwight Gayle’s header, Campbell swept home the follow-up.
But even without the influence of injured pair Raheem Sterling and Gerrard, Liverpool had plenty of ammunition up their sleeves, and had drawn belief from a run of just one defeat in 15 games in all competitions.
A quick interchange between Lallana and Jordan Henderson saw the former bring a fine save out of Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni in the 20th minute.
Liverpool turned up the heat as the first half wore on, with Henderson finding himself foiled by Speroni before Joe Allen was inches off target with a long-range volley.
Palace were happy to play on the counter-attack and the pace of Gayle almost saw them hit Liverpool with a sucker-punch just before the break.
Another mistake from Skrtel let in Gayle from Yannick Bolasie’s dinked pass but this time Mignolet’s save saw the ball rebound to safety.
That proved crucial as Liverpool hauled themselves level inside four minutes of the second half thanks to a goal made by two of their England internationals.
Henderson’s floated pass from the edge of the box found Sturridge in space and he rifled a first-time volley through the legs of Speroni at the back post.
Gayle was again thwarted by Mignolet, but by now the momentum had shifted. It took another swing in Liverpool’s favour as Lallana struck in the 58th minute.
Speroni could only push out substitute Mario Balotelli’s 25-yard free-kick and the former Southampton captain hared in to steer the rebound into the net from close range.