Palace stuns Liverpool as Benteke brace haunts Anfield

Christian Benteke scored twice on his return to former club Liverpool to earn Crystal Palace a 2-1 win that boosted its survival hopes in the Premier League on Sunday.

Christian Benteke celebrates scoring against Liverpool during the game.   -  AP

Christian Benteke scored twice on his return to former club Liverpool to earn Crystal Palace a 2-1 win that boosted its survival hopes in the Premier League on Sunday.

Benteke was sold by Liverpool for 27 million pounds ($34.6 million) in August as he didn’t fit into coach Juergen Klopp’s plans, but he is proving the ideal striker for Palace in its late run to safety.

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It is now five goals in his last five games for the tall Belgium striker, who equalized at Anfield in the 42nd minute with a sidefooted finish before stooping to head home the winner from a corner in the 74th.

Philippe Coutinho put Liverpool ahead in the 24th minute with a curling free kick from 25 meters (yards), and spurned a number of opportunities early in the second half before Benteke struck for the second time.

Liverpool stayed in third place as it seeks a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League, but is only two points clear of Manchester City and three ahead of Manchester United. Both City and United have two games in hand over Liverpool, which has four matches left.

After its third straight win at Anfield, Palace moved seven points clear of the relegation zone, which could well be enough to secure its top-flight status for another season.

Palace brought Sam Allardyce in as manager in late December because of his history in keeping teams in the Premier League, and it has proved to be a shrewd appointment. The London team has beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in its last five games.

Palace even achieved victory without star defender Mamadou Sakho, who is on loan from Liverpool and wasn’t allowed to play against his former club.

The last team to complete three wins in a row at Anfield was Chelsea in 2005.