Liverpool’s title hopes look in tatters after they blew a three-goal lead with 11 minutes remaining to draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace.
Brendan Rodgers’ men looked on course to move three points clear at the top of the Premier League table and heap the pressure back on Manchester City ahead of their home game against Aston Villa on Wednesday thanks to goals from Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.
However Damien Delaney’s deflected strike and a two-goal blast from super-sub Dwight Gayle earned the Eagles an unlikely point in a crazy finale at Selhurst Park. The draw means Liverpool do move a point ahead of City at the top of the table but a win and draw from their remaining home games against Villa and West Ham respectively should seal Manuel Pellegrini’s side the title because of their super nine-goal goal difference.
Liverpool had an early shout for a penalty when Yannick Bolasie’s wild swing caught Glen Johnson in the area and he went to ground but referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the corner instead. Mamadou Sakho should have scored from that seventh minute corner as he was left unmarked but headed down and wide of the far post.
Allen’s high ball into the Palace area on 15 minutes was met by the head of Johnson who timed his run into the box to perfection but he couldn’t keep his effort down as it dropped on top of the stranded Julian Speroni’s goal. Liverpool took the lead three minutes later when they won a corner down the left after Sturridge’s effort was deflected inches wide of the far post.
Steven Gerrard whipped the flag-kick in and Allen was unmarked at the back post to head in his first goal for the club. Palace came back into the game and Simon Mignolet was forced into his first meaningful save on 33 minutes as Jason Puncheon’s low strike flew towards the bottom corner and he got down well to parry it away.
Two minutes later he was at full stretch to tip a deflected Miles Jedinak effort from outside the area over his bar. Liverpool had the final effort of the half on 43 minutes when Suarez tried to catch out Speroni at his near post with an effort from a tight angle down the left but the Palace keeper did well to save.
Liverpool edged further ahead on 53 minutes when Sturridge collected a long ball from Gerrard and got in a shot from the edge of the box which deflected off Delaney on its way past Speroni. Two minutes later it was 3-0 as Suarez exchanged passes with Raheem Sterling before firing low past Speroni. Liverpool set about looking to eat further into City’s goal difference advantage as Speroni did well to tip over a fierce drive from Johnson on 67 minutes.
However Palace got a foot-hold back into the game on 79 minutes when Delaney’s effort from outside the area took a slight nick off Johnson and flew into the top corner of Mignolet’s net. Liverpool’s nerves were jangling further two minutes later when Palace broke quickly from defending a corner and Bolasie surged into the left of the area before teeing up Gayle in the centre who coolly beat Mignolet with a side-foot effort.
Palace continued knocking at the door for an equaliser and were rewarded with two minutes left as Glenn Murray chested on a long ball forward into the path of Gayle in the area and he made no mistake lashing his effort past Mignolet. Both sides went for a winner in stoppage time with Gayle firing an effort wide of the post for Palace and Liverpool substitute Victor Moses just failed to scramble the ball home from close range when the hosts couldn’t clear a corner into their area.
R Story by Ghana/Joy Sports
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