Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez deliver in defence with Liverpool clean sheet

Less flash, more steel was Liverpool's motto tonight, as they beat a stubborn Crystal Palace side 2-0. A penalty kick from James Milner and a late Sadio Mane goal ensured maximum points from the first two games -- all anyone could have wished for.


This was the face of Liverpool that fans would like to see more often. Everyone knows they can play their brilliant football, but when the going's tough, they've often lacked grit. Not any more, based on this showing.


Without a generous penalty, they'd have struggled to break down unadventurous opposition. More teams will try to drag Liverpool down to their level, so it's important they get going a lot more quickly than they did tonight.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Jurgen Klopp was happy enough with his opening day team to persist with it, sensed a little tiredness with James Milner and made the change without hesitation. He'll need to use his squad and bench this expertly all season if Liverpool are to challenge.

Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 7 -- Little to do, but did it well. Good second-half save from a dangerous free kick. It wasn't anything his predecessors couldn't have done, but already the defence seems more secure with him behind it. Cool in possession, too.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- Given lots of room to go forward and cross but rarely took full advantage. The positive sign was that he was never discouraged, and defensively he was sound against one of the greater left-wing challenges in the league in Wilfried Zaha.

DF Joe Gomez, 8 -- Solid and mostly error-free, which hasn't always been the case with the young Englishman. Gave away one corner by being half-asleep but defended well and was never caught napping by Palace's considerable pace.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 9 -- Obligatory autopilot display for the most part, as his brilliance stems from making it all look so easy. Met the aerial challenge of Christian Benteke head on, leaving the Belgian forlorn and flummoxed. Organising superbly during rare moments of pressure, he has improved the Reds at the back almost single-handedly.

DF Andrew Robertson, 7 -- Great energy from the Scot again, less space to attack than Alexander-Arnold in the first half, but persistence paid off, and he was more dangerous in second half. Defending was flawless.

MF James Milner, 6 -- A strangely weary-looking captain at least stayed cool for the penalty but wandered about in midfield to little effect. Perhaps weakened by a poor challenge in the first half, he lasted an hour before being wisely taken off.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 7 -- The standard away performance from the Netherlands midfielder, lots of busyness but seldom eye-catching, he covered well defensively on a few occasions when Liverpool's defenders were caught further forward.

MF Naby Keita, 7 -- Glorious turn and pass probably should have been converted by Mohamed Salah. Slack pass almost saw Andros Townsend score, and that seemed to send him back into his shell. Still to acclimatise to the hectic Premier League pace perhaps, but lots of neat touches.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- Scored the clinching breakaway second goal to keep up his promising start to the season. Threatened fitfully throughout, but shooting was awry until the end, when he showed great energy and cool.

FW Mohamed Salah, 6 -- Earned the penalty (and the subsequent boos of home fans), then sent Mane on his way for the second, but this was not a special night for the Egyptian. The tremendous threat he carries makes him a marked man, but he rarely looked in the mood to fully punish Palace.

FW Roberto Firmino, 6 -- It's not often that Liverpool win when the Brazilian is on the fringe of the action, but for once, they got away with it. Blame it on him not being fully fit after the World Cup, but he showed only in patches.


MF Jordan Henderson, 7 -- Brought on for a tired Milner, his mission was to obviously help keep the ball better to snuff out any chance of a Palace comeback, and for the most part he did that. Wasn't flashy, but didn't need to be.

MF Adam Lallana, NR -- Brought on to help clinch the result, he instead conceded a dangerous late free kick, which fortunately came to nothing.

FW Daniel Sturridge, NR -- Just a short runout once the game was secured.