Liverpool made it four points from two Premier League games as Sadio Mane sealed a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Liverpool ground out their first Premier League win of the season as Sadio Mane’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
The home side conceded an injury-time equaliser in their 3-3 draw at Watford in their opening match and had looked likely to stumble again on Saturday until the Senegal star pounced with 17 minutes left to play.
Frank de Boer endured a 3-0 home loss to Huddersfield Town last weekend in his first match in charge at Palace and, although his side produced a far more organised display on Merseyside, they were undone by another defensive error, this time from Luka Milivojevic.
Jurgen Klopp chose to start without Mohamed Salah, Emre Can and Dejan Lovren, with Liverpool facing the second leg of their Champions League play-off against Hoffenheim on Wednesday, and his team looked well short of their electric best in attack.
Joel Matip missed the best chance of the first half from a cross from debutant Andrew Robertson and Liverpool could have found themselves behind had former Reds striker Christian Benteke done better with a clear opening after the break.
Frustration around the stands was beginning to build until Mane at last showed a clinical touch to secure an important home win ahead of a difficult run of matches, which includes back-to-back meetings with Arsenal and Manchester City.
James Milner, restored to the line-up on the left of midfield, tested Wayne Hennessey early on before Matip spurned a glorious chance to break the deadlock, somehow heading the ball wide of the right-hand post after the Palace goalkeeper had missed Robertson’s cross.
Daniel Sturridge was tasked with leading the Liverpool attack but his only half-chance of a quiet first half hour was a shot from 20 yards out that he blazed over the crossbar.
The half at least ended in exciting fashion, with Hennessey making a tremendous save to deny Roberto Firmino from 20 yards and Simon Mignolet beating away Jason Puncheon’s strike as Palace broke with speed.
Milner watched a free-kick fly narrowly over and Hennessey was at full stretch to keep Firmino’s volley from creeping into the bottom corner, as Liverpool started the second half with some real attacking intent.
Benteke wasted a golden chance to score his sixth goal in four visits to Anfield as an opposition player, the Belgian skying his first-time shot from barely 10 yards out after some brilliant work from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Klopp introduced Salah from the bench for his Anfield debut and the Egypt winger’s first contribution was to wreak havoc with a driving run, but Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum failed to capitalise.
However, with 73 minutes gone, Mane was gifted a chance he could not pass up. Milivojevic’s poor control on the edge of the box saw the ball run loose, and when Dominic Solanke blocked an attempted clearance, Mane had the simple task of prodding the ball low past Hennessey.
Liverpool’s lead remained unthreatened in the closing minutes, allowing Klopp to celebrate a victory before attentions turn to the visit of Hoffenheim next week, where the Reds lead 2-1 from the first leg.