Liverpool in seventh heaven after picking off Palace

Liverpool produced a masterclass in finishing to win 7-0 at Crystal Palace and ensure they are number one at Christmas for the third year in a row in the Premier League.

With Mohamed Salah only on the bench at Selhurst Park, Takumi Minamino grasped his opportunity with a first league goal a year after he signed for the club before the old guard wrapped up the points in the capital.

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino added further strikes in the first half, the latter after a slick counter-attack, before four more goals were forthcoming in clinical fashion after the break.

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Liverpool put seven past Crystal Palace
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Liverpool put seven past Crystal Palace
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Final Score Board showing 7-0 for Liverpool during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores their sides seventh goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Adam Davy - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool after the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores the seventh goal making the score 7-0 during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Roy Hodgson, Manager of Crystal Palace looks dejected following his team's defeat in the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores his sides seventh goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the fifth goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his sides fifth goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
Crystal Palace's Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha reacts during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Clive Rose / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on in the rain during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Adam Davy / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (L) and Liverpool's Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (R) during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Adam Davy / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson scores his team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Justin Setterfield / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by JUSTIN SETTERFIELD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT)Roberto Firmino of Liverpool scores the third goal making the score 3-0 and celebrates during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Crystal Palace's Nathaniel Clyne during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Crystal Palace's English manager Roy Hodgson reacts during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Clive Rose / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates scoring their 3rd goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT)Sadio Mane of Liverpool scores the second for liverpool and celebrates during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Liverpool's English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (C) and Crystal Palace's Dutch defender Patrick van Aanholt (R) face up to each other during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Adam Davy / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Crystal Palace's English manager Roy Hodgson (L) and Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp watch the players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Clive Rose / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Sadio Mane of Liverpool celebrates scoring their 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Sadio Mane of Liverpool celebrates scoring their 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on December 19, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Japanese midfielder Takumi Minamino celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Clive Rose / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Firmino completed a brace after Jordan Henderson's curler and Salah was able to net a double during a 33-minute cameo to send out a statement to the chasing pack.

Crystal Palace had plenty of openings early on, but were unable to take them or more points off a title challenger – having held Tottenham to a 1-1 draw last weekend – and on this evidence, it looks like the league championship will go to Merseyside for another season.

The Reds returned to the summit with a 2-1 win over Spurs on Wednesday – a game where Salah opened the scoring, but he was only on the bench for this clash. Minamino, in the absence of the injured Diogo Jota, was handed a chance and needed only three minutes to take it.

Neat build-up play between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mane saw the Japanese ace teed up inside the area and he worked a yard of space before he drilled into the bottom corner. It was Minamino's first goal in the Premier League at the 18th time of asking.

Palace pressed afterwards and produced a number of openings with the best in the 24th minute when Jordan Ayew raced into the area but, instead of shooting at Alisson, he looked to cut back for Wilfried Zaha and the pass was behind his unmarked team-mate.

Takumi Minamino opened the scoring at Selhurst Park
Takumi Minamino opened the scoring at Selhurst Park (Clive Rose/PA)

Palace almost paid for their profligacy five minutes later when Patrick Van Aanholt's wayward back pass went to Minamino, but the Liverpool attacker sliced wide under pressure and after a deflection.

It was a short-lived reprieve for the Eagles, who conceded to a familiar foe when Mane got on the scoresheet against the south London club for the seventh successive game with 36 on the clock.

Gary Cahill had appeared to thwart the danger with a strong tackle on Minamino, but Firmino fizzed a pass into his other strike partner and the Senegal international fired into the bottom corner.

While Roy Hodgson would have wondered how his team were two goals down, even he would have admired the swiftness of Liverpool's third a minute before half-time.

Firmino passed out to Andrew Robertson and the left-back embarked on a trademark run before he delivered his usual level of quality in the final third.

In space to collect his inch-perfect cross was Firmino, who added to his goal against Spurs on Wednesday with another after a confident poke into the corner to make it 3-0.

Palace were out first after half-time, but Liverpool needed only seven minutes of the second period to find the net once more when captain Henderson curled home following a cutback by Alexander-Arnold.

As the heavens opened in SE25, Jurgen Klopp showed no mercy and introduced 14-goal Salah in the 57th minute despite Mane being reluctant to come off.

Roberto Firmino scored twice in a clinical display
Roberto Firmino scored twice in a clinical display (Adam Davy/PA)

The ex-Southampton striker probably sensed there were more opportunities to be taken and he was right, with his replacement assisting Firmino for his second in the 68th minute.

Firmino controlled the pass elegantly and took it in his stride before he chipped over Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to move to five goals for the season and display a new level of confidence following his midweek winner.

After his role as creator, Salah demonstrated his predatory instincts with a close-range header nine minutes from time following a corner and had one more special saved in reserve.

The Egyptian cut inside and powered home into the top corner from outside the area in the 84th minute to make it seventh heaven for Liverpool, who despite a lengthy injury list remain the side to beat in the title race.

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