Liverpool’s number ten was their only reason to smile, as they succumbed to yet another disappointing home defeat as the season draws to a close. Philippe Coutinho’s first half free-kick was the only real moment of brilliance as Christian Benteke came back to haunt his former side with a brace.
The little magician certainly started the brightest for the home side, beginning the first half with countless deft touches and dazzling runs to cause all sorts of problems for the travelling Palace team. His persistence in winning the ball back for his side through a high-press was of particular importance, combined with his ability to take up very threatening positions on the edge of the box.
His first real moment of magic arrived midway through the first half, when a fine piece of skill drew a foul from Yohan Cabaye. Coutinho then managed to brush himself off and released an unstoppable free-kick past Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal, with the attacker knowing the ball would find the back of the net the moment it left his boot.
He then provided a deft touch to set James Milner through from left back, and floated a great ball through to Divock Origi soon after, although neither could take the chances that came their way.
After Palace found their equaliser and were in the ascendancy, Coutinho produced further sublime trickery to create space, but his consequential shot was fired high and wide. This was closely followed by a tantalising run, where he perhaps could have gone down in the box and won a penalty for his side, but his honesty and persistence should be strongly admired in this day and age of controversial decisions and constant simulation.
Coutinho was the only real problem that a determined Palace defence faced all day, and another Liverpool goal was certainly only achievable if the Brazilian was involved. He was a central figure in everything going forward for the home side, and even had a chance deep into the second half, but his wayward header was poorly executed.
The Liverpool defence was once again at fault for both Palace goals, and unquestionably undermined any positive effect that Coutinho had on the game. The little magician’s deliveries from corners and attacking free-kicks were once more perfectly executed, yet his team-mates somehow failed to find the back of the net from a single one.
The attacker has now scored his 10th league goal of the season and has now found the net in three successive home games. He also grabbed his 13th Premier League goal from a free-kick where, since his debut in February 2013, only Manchester City’s Yaya Toure has scored more.