24 Apr 2017

Benteke comes back to haunt Liverpool

6:54 am on 24 April 2017

Christian Benteke has come back to haunt Liverpool as Crystal Palace put a huge dent in the Reds' top-four EPL aspirations with a 2-1 win at Anfield.

Crystal Palace player Christian Benteke. April 10th 2017.

Crystal Palace player Christian Benteke. Photo: Photosport

Benteke, who Liverpool sold to their opponents earlier this season, after failing to impress Juergen Klopp, scored twice as the rejuvenated Eagles came from behind to all but secure their Premier League status.

Look back at match commentary here.

Philippe Coutinho had put Liverpool ahead in the 24th minute with a direct free kick.

The home side dominated but conceded an equaliser just before half-time when Benteke scored from a cross by Yohan Cabaye.

In the 74th minute the Belgian stooped to head in a corner and win the game.

Klopp's team stay third but are five points behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur having played two games more.

Palace, who have recently beaten Chelsea and Arsenal, moved up four places to 12th and should now be safe from relegation after a sixth win in eight games.

Mourinho focused more on Europa League

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said he was prioritising the Europa League despite his team being able to jump above Manchester City into the fourth Champions League qualification spot with a win in Thursday's derby.

United's 2-0 win at Burnley in the Premier League this morning brings them within a point of fourth-placed City ahead of the derby clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Look back at match commentary here.

But with the games coming thick and fast and injuries taking a toll on his team, Mourinho said he would rotate his squad again with an eye on the 4th May Europa League, semi-final, first-leg at Spanish club Celta Vigo.

Asked about the chance to overtake City with a win in the derby, the Portuguese said: "But if we beat Celta we go to the final.

"Yes it is important for us to play in the Champions League but this club wants trophies. We cannot give the club the Premier League. We have a 25 percent chance to win the Europa League and we have to put everything on it.

"I will rotate the players again, I will rest some players again

"At least in terms of expectation for the game, the emotions, it is better a derby with one point difference than with four," he said.

One player who could be missing on Thursday is French midfielder Paul Pogba who was replaced at the end of this morning's game.

Having lost top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a serious knee injury in Thursday's Europa League win over Anderlecht, Mourinho was particularly pleased with the way Anthony Martial played in attack.

The United manager also praised the performance of Eric Bailly at the centre of defence but repeated his call for injured defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to speed up their recovery.

"[Bailly] was incredible. If I was Smalling or Jones, I would play Thursday. I wouldn't accept one guy to play nine matches in a row because I am injured. I would do a last push," he said.

Asked if that was a realistic expectation of the pair, Mourinho added: "If they have a crazy mentality like I have, they would [play]; if they are safe thinking and they are surrounded by people with the same mentality as they have, it takes more time, it is more cautious.

"If it was me, nobody would stop me playing".

- Reuters