Adam Lallana salutes the “ice-cool” mentality of teammate Christian Benteke as he backed the Liverpool striker to build on his thrilling late winner against Crystal Palace.
The £32.5million attacker came off the bench first to earn and then convert a 95th-minute penalty at Selhurst Park for 10-man Liverpool. It happens to be Benteke’s first goal in 14 matches as he tried to put a nightmarish few months behind him.
However, Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has accused Christian Benteke of diving to earn the penalty deep into stoppage time which eventually forced Palace to their 8th defeat in 10 league matches, and leaves the Londoners still sweating over the possibility of relegation.
The Belgian forward has seriously struggled to earn Jurgen Klopp’s faith but Lallana claims his cameo against the Eagles was a timely reminder of his worth.
“I was delighted for Christian,” Lallana told the Echo.
“He’s been working extremely hard lately to try to get back in the team.
“He’s a top striker. He has proved himself in the Premier League. Sometimes you go through barren spells, we’ve all had them.
“He showed great composure to score after being brought down for the penalty. It was ice-cool the way he put it away.
“It’s a massive moment for Christian and the team. I’m sure he’ll push on from this now.”
Joe Ledley fired Palace ahead early on in the second half and when James Milner was ordered to leave the field for a second booking and the Reds seemed doomed.
However, Klopp’s boys dug deep with Roberto Firmino netting the equaliser before Benteke had the final word.
“That’s our never-say-die attitude,” Lallana further said.
“We stuck at it and showed character.
“It was strange going down to 10 men because it almost took the reins off us. We played with a bit more freedom and confidence after that.
“Phil (Coutinho) came on and was brilliant. He gave us that extra bit of quality that we needed to get ourselves back in the game. In the last 20 minutes we were outstanding.”
Even a week ago Liverpool were suffering from the pain of losing the Capital One Cup final to Manchester City on penalties.
But since then the Reds have hit back really nice with six points out of possible six against Manchester City and Crystal Palace to rise to seventh in the Premier League.
“It’s been a big response,” revealed Lallana, who made his 50th Premier League appearance for Liverpool last night.
“We all felt so disappointed after what happened in the final but we needed to put it behind us.
“We said before the game that victory here would be even bigger than beating Man City on Wednesday night.
“To win in the last minute says a lot about this team. We’ve had some bad defeats to Palace, not only here but at Anfield as well, so we owed them one.”
Lallana also admits Liverpool will face Manchester United in Thursday’s Europa League last 16 first leg with full of confidence.
“It’s going to be massive over two legs,” he said.
Last night it was like a payback for all the misery Crystal Palace have inflicted on Liverpool in recent past.
Since the infamous 3-3 draw that ended Liverpool’s title dream under former manager Brendan Rodgers, the Eagles managed to win all three league fixtures. They had even destroyed Steven Gerrard’s Anfield farewell before returning to upset Jurgen Klopp last November. But on Sunday, it was different ball game.