Christian Benteke came back to haunt Liverpool as his two goals helped to edge Crystal Palace closer to safety whilst also potentially scuppering Jurgen Klopp’s push for Champions League qualification.
The Belgium forward cancelled out Philippe Countiho’s first half free kick with an emphatic close-range finish from Yohan Cabaye’s driven cross before netting the winner with a powerful header from Andros Townsend’s miss-hit corner.
There was no manic celebration from Benteke against his former club and the Anfield crowd grudgingly but sportingly gave the 26-year-old a round of applause when he was substituted in the closing moments.
It was a well-deserved moment of appreciation for a player that had failed to shine during his short spell with Liverpool but had produced a match-winning display upon his return.
An unhappy spell at Anfield
One of Brendan Rodgers’ last meaningful acts as manager of Liverpool was to purchase Christian Benteke from Aston Villa for a fee of £32,500,000 in the summer of 2015.
The Belgian had flourished in the Premier League with the struggling Midlands side and had proven to be a regular goal scorer whose power, pace and strength made him perfect for leading the line in the physically demanding world of English football.
However, Benteke’s time at Anfield was far from positive and, when Jurgen Klopp replaced Rodgers midway through the 2015/16 season, the writing was very much on the wall for the striker.
Klopp decided that the 26-year-old did not fit his vision of high intensity football and the forward was very rarely selected to start league fixtures.
The general perception was that Benteke simply did not possess the attributes required to become a key component of the new look Liverpool that the former Borussia Dortmund manager was looking to build and implement at Anfield. The Belgian never lost his ability, it was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool chose to cash in on their out of place striker and Benteke was sold to Crystal Palace for £27,000,000 in the summer.
Making a point
Christian Benteke made his point to Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool supporters in general with his match winning display on Sunday.
Strong, powerful and a constant threat, the Liverpool back four never looked comfortably dealing with the Belgian’s attacking prowess.
Dejan Lovren appeared completely unable to deal with his former team mate and had no answers to the attacking questions that Benteke was posing.
The striker demonstrated tremendous desire to latch onto Yahan Cabaye’s drilled cross before any defender could react to score the equaliser whilst Liverpool’s inability to defend corners was once again exposed when the 26-year-old grabbed the winning goal mid-way through the second period.
The result practically guarantees that Crystal Palace will secure their Premier League status for another season, a feat that will go some way to rebuilding Sam Allardyce’s battered reputation following his controversial stint as manager of England.
Leading The Eagles’ to survival is an impressive achievement and Benteke has been a vital part of the team’s revival. For Liverpool, a loss on home soil puts a severe dent in their hopes for Champions League qualification.
That is now 14 goals in the Premier League for Benteke this campaign, a total that no Liverpool player has been able to match. Klopp may well be wondering if he could have done more to fit the imposing Belgian forward into his new look side.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Gordon Judge (Gordon Judge)