Premier League - Liverpool collapse leaves title dream in tatters

Premier League, Selhurst Park - Crystal Palace 3 (Delaney 79, Gayle 81, 88) Liverpool (Allen 18, Sturridge 53, Suarez 55)

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Premier League - Liverpool collapse leaves title dream in tatters
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A dejected Martin Skrtel of Liverpool reacts following his team's 3-3 draw during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool

Liverpool lost a three-goal lead in the last 12 minutes as Crystal Palace earned a 3-3 draw at Selhurst Park that could decide the title in Manchester City's favour.

Brendan Rodgers' side were cruising to an easy win that would have sent them three points clear of City, albeit having played a game more, six days from the end of the season. But a deflected Damien Delaney shot made it 3-1 and sent Liverpool into a dramatic tailspin that allowed Dwight Gayle to net twice in the dying minutes.

Luis Suarez left the pitch in tears, Brendan Rodgers all but conceded the title. Liverpool lead by a point with City facing Aston Villa on Wednesday, but the players' distraught demeanour at full-time suggested they know a once-in-a-generation chance is slipping from their grasp as they chase their first league title for 24 years.

The result bore echoes of Liverpool's 2005 Champions League triumph when they came from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties - only this time Liverpool were on the receiving end of an amazing comeback, which was soon nicknamed 'Crystanbul' on social media.

It all looked to be going to plan as the visitors took the lead less than 20 minutes in when Joe Allen headed in a Steven Gerrard corner - his first goal for Liverpool and the first time Tony Pulis's Palace have conceded from a set piece.

The visitors’ good fortune improved following the break as they doubled their lead – Daniel Sturridge’s shot deflecting off Delaney and past the helpless Julian Speroni, and they added a third when Suarez netted his 31st Premier League goal of the season.

But with just over 10 minutes remaining, Liverpool’s season fell apart as Palace netted three in quick succession. The unfortunate Delaney, who had earlier contributed to Liverpool’s second, enjoyed a slice of luck as his speculative 25-yard drive ricocheted off Glen Johnson before flying into the top left-hand corner.

The goal appeared to rock the visitors and spur Palace on, as Gayle first converted Yannick Bolasie’s clever centre before taking advantage of some slack Liverpool defending to score a dramatic late equaliser and all-but end Liverpool’s hopes of claiming a first league title in 24 years.

They lead City by a point, but have one game remaining to City's two. Their distraught demeanour at full-time suggested they know a once-in-a-generation chance is slipping from their grasp.

KEY MOMENTS

8’ - MUST SCORE!! Sakho should have Liverpool a goal to the good, as he finds space – somehow – on the edge of the six-yard box from the corner. The defender is totally unmarked, but inexplicably heads wide

18’ - GOAL!!! Joe Allen scores his first goal for Liverpool. Gerrard's corner from the left is sent over the crowd and towards the far post, where the unmarked Allen has the simplest of tasks to nod past Speroni. Terrible defending, but Liverpool won't care.

33’ – MIGNOLET SAVE: Great effort from Puncheon, who smashes a left-footed effort through a crowd of bodies from 25 yards. Mignolet is unsighted, but is down in a flash to turn the ball around his post with a firm hand. Brilliant effort, better save.

35’ - WHAT A SAVE FROM MIGNOLET!! Jedinak, unmarked, sets his sights from a little under 30 yards. His right-footed drive is vicious – dipping and swerving on its way into the top corner. But Mignolet flies through the air, getting a fingertip to the ball and diverting it over the crossbar.

42’ – SUAREZ ALMOST NETS! Suarez looks to catch out Speroni at his near post after being sent through on goal. The Uruguayan’s first touch is a poor one, but he manages to keep the ball in play on the left touchline. There are a number of Liverpool players in the penalty area, but Suarez smashes a shot towards the near post that Speroni has to be alert to save.

53’ – LIVERPOOL’S SECOND! Liverpool add their second and it’ll give them a little bit of breathing room to go on and get more – looking to draw level with City. It’s Sturridge that scores, but it’s very fortunate. His shot from 20 yards takes a wicked deflection off Delaney and into the back of the net.

55’ – LIVERPOOL NET THREE! The Reds smell blood. Suarez receives the ball 30 yards from goal and bursts forward, exchanging a one-two with Sterling, before carrying on his run and slotting past the onrushing Speroni from eight yards.

79’ – PALACE PULL ONE BACK! Delaney finds some space 25 yards from goal, and, under no pressure at all, opts to fire at goal. His shot takes a massive deflection off Johnson and past Mignolet.

81’ – LIVERPOOL CONCEDE AGAIN! Palace score a second in as many minutes. Following a break down in Liverpool’s attack, Bolasie breaks and is most certainly the right man to do so. He knocks the ball ahead of him, storming past every Liverpool player to reach the penalty area. He holds the ball up well before finding Gayle, who side-foots past Mignolet from the penalty spot.

89’ – IT’S ALL LEVEL!! Liverpool have blown a three goal lead, and could well have blown their title hopes. Gayle scores his second of the match after splitting Skrtel and Sakho to rifle past Mignolet from close range.

[INCONSOLABLE SUAREZ BREAKS DOWN IN FLOODS OF TEARS]

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MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

KEY STATS

Tony Pulis remains unbeaten at home to Liverpool in the Premier League (W3-D3), while both teams avoid back-to-back Premier League losses for only the second time under their current managers. Liverpool, however, remain unbeaten for the ninth PL away match in a row, for the first time since April – October 2008.

Dwight Gayle becomes just the third player to score more than once against Liverpool in a single PL match this season (Romelu Lukaku and Jordan Mutch also scored twice against them).

This is the first time ever Palace have recovered from a three-goal deficit in the PL, previous best was two goals vs Norwich in April 2005 (that match also ended 3-3).

(via Infostrada)

TALKING POINT

Have Liverpool blown their chance to win the league? The Reds move top of the table by just one point, but Manchester City have a game in hand and face Aston Villa and West Ham in their final two games of the season. A first league title in 24 years is still possible, but hugely unlikely.

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace): It has to be, doesn’t it? Scoring two goals in eight second-half minutes to rescue a dramatic 3-3 draw and effectively end Liverpool’s title hopes is worthy of the gong. Yannick Bolasie was also tremendous, but this award is Gayle’s.

PLAYER RATINGS

Crystal Palace: Speroni 7, Mariappa 6, Dann 6, Delaney 7, Ward 6, Dikgacoi 6, Jedinak 6, Ledley 6, Bolasie 8, Puncheon 6, Chamakh 6. Subs: Ince 5, Gayle 9, Murray 6

Liverpool: Mignolet 7, Johnson 6, Flanagan 6, Skrtel 7, Sakho 6, Gerrard 6, Allen 7, Lucas 7, Sterling 7, Sturridge 6, Suarez 7. Subs: Coutinho 5, Moses 5.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

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