EPL Results: Crystal Palace Stun Liverpool with Three-Goal Assault as Reds' Title Hopes Fade
By Deepak Vikraman | May 6, 2014 2:30 PM EST
With 55 minutes gone in the game, after Luis Suarez got his, now customary, goal, Liverpool were cruising at 3-0, sailing towards another big win in the English Premier League, with the only real question in the final 35 minutes seemingly being how many more the title contenders can score.
However, in an amazing nine minute turnaround, Crystal Palace struck three unanswered goals to as good as end Liverpool's hopes of winning their first league title in 24 years as the pulsating match at Selhurst Park ended 3-3.
Joe Allen opened the scoring for Liverpool, before the SAS strike duo of Daniel Sturridge and Suarez, who won the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year award on Monday, struck in the space of two early second half minutes to give their side a comfortable lead.
Palace, though, refused to lie down and play dead, with Damien Delaney making it 3-1 courtesy a deflected effort in the 79th minute, before Dwight Gayle scored two well taken goals in the final ten minutes to turn the match on its head and send Manchester City into raptures.
Liverpool now lead the Premier League by one point from City, who have a game in hand. If Man City pick up a win over already-safe Aston Villa on Wednesday night, then a draw, with their superior goal difference, should be enough in the final game of the season against West Ham on Sunday to crown them champions for the second time in three years.
"We needed to win tonight to keep the pressure on," a downcast Brendan Rodgers said after the game on Monday. "Obviously, it was still in the hands of Manchester City, so us winning tonight would have given them a little bit of pressure in the Aston Villa game.
"Villa will go and make it difficult, I'm sure, like they have done against the top-four teams this season. But I think everyone will look at Manchester City's squad and look at them as a team that can win the games and get the job done."
Rodgers admitted the players were finding it difficult to swallow the draw, with the result feeling more like a defeat. "It feels like a loss when you're 3-0 up and concede goals like that," Rodgers added. "As you can imagine, [the dressing room] is very quiet and the players are devastated really because, for 78 minutes, we were outstanding.
"I think we got carried away; thought we could maybe get one or two more and lost the defensive structure to our game. To concede the three goals at the end was hugely disappointing, having worked so hard to get 3-0 up.
"Tonight was about winning the game, so when we stabilised that at halftime and got the structure back into our game, we came out in the second half and got two quick goals -- which put us in total control with half an hour to go.
"It's something that we'll improve on for next season. Last season we needed to get better and we've got better this year. It's very disappointing to have only gained a point from a game we had total control over."
Palace have now picked up 44 points from 37 games, an amazing achievement considering the position that the club was in when Tony Pulis took over. The former Stoke manager has done wonders with this side, and Palace will now look to finish their season off on a high when they face relegated Fulham in the final game of the season at Craven Cottage.
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