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Liverpool's title dream in tatters

Date

Football columnist, The London Telegraph

View more articles from Henry Winter

Heartbreak: Dwight Gayle scores the equaliser for Crystal Palace.

Heartbreak: Dwight Gayle scores the equaliser for Crystal Palace. Photo: AFP

Mad all over. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. Just as Liverpool were cutting back Manchester City's superior goal difference, giving hope to their title dream, they went into meltdown, and their supporters looked on stunned by the destruction of their defence and their title hopes.

Attack, attack, attack? Crystal Palace certainly did. For 55 minutes, it was Liverpool fans chanting "attack, attack, attack". Joe Allen opened the scoring, Daniel Sturridge added the second before Luis Suarez the third, making it 31 goals in the Premier League this season for the new Footballer of the Year.

Those Liverpool fans with long memories will have recalled that they were also leading 3-0 against Palace after 55 minutes on Sept 12, 1989, at Anfield and went on to win 9-0. The manager that day, Kenny Dalglish, was looking on here. At 3-0 up, Liverpool could have closed up shop, taking the points, but they chased a fourth. Brendan Rodgers commanded it and they were caught out on the counter time and again. Palace raided through to score through Damien Delaney and Dwight Gayle twice, three goals in nine minutes. If the noise was deafening here, the volume would have been as loud amongst City fans.

A tearful Luis Suarez is consoled by his captain Steven Gerrard.

A tearful Luis Suarez is consoled by his captain Steven Gerrard. Photo: AFP

Liverpool went top but were devastated. Steven Gerrard looked close to tears. Suarez hid his face in his shirt. It was such a contrast to earlier on. Even before Allen's goal set Liverpool up for a convincing lead to eat away at City's goal-difference advantage, Liverpool had been lively. From the first whistle they were at Palace, hardly pausing for breath, just wanting goal after goal. Scarcely had the hosts' eagle stopped swooping on the pitch, then Liverpool were trying to climb back on the perch they were knocked off by Manchester United in the early 90s.

Suarez, newly installed as Footballer of the Year, almost scored but Julian Speroni blocked. From Steven Gerrard's corner, Mamadou Sakho headed down and over. For all Liverpool's momentary disappointment, the opportunity wasted by Sakho at least highlighted the surprising gaps in Palace's defence at set-pieces.

Liverpool kept up the pressure. Allen lifted through a long ball, a huge delivery upfield that dropped over Palace's startled defence, that fell towards the area. Glen Johnson had read Allen's intentions, speeding into the box, meeting the ball with a header over the advancing Speroni. Brendan Rodgers was off his seat, holding his arms up, believing the ball would drop into the goal but it carried over.

Jubiliation: Gayle is embraced by his teammate Yannick Bolasie.

Jubiliation: Gayle is embraced by his teammate Yannick Bolasie. Photo: Getty Images

Palace were occasionally on the front foot. Gerrard had to charge back to deal with Jason Puncheon and then Adrian Mariappa. When Lucas gifted the ball to Joe Ledley, Palace charged upfield and Simon Mignolet saved well from Yannick Bolassie. Liverpool were determined to reclaim the leadership of the Premier League from City and took the lead after 18 minutes. Sturridge's shot deflected wide off Damien Delaney, leading to a Gerrard corner.

Ledley was culpable, failing to respond to Allen's clever run, taking him away from goal and then back in, now unmarked, now able to meet Gerrard's corner. Only 5ft 6in, Allen made short work of the header, placing it past Speroni. It was the least the visitors deserved. Jon Flanagan and particularly Johnson were pushing on. Allen was a real creative force, influential with his passes over small distance and long, also winning it back. Lucas does not quite seem to fit into the system, particularly in this more advanced role. Raheem Sterling was at the tip of the diamond, playing behind Suarez and Sturridge.

Palace refused to be overawed. Their fans were brilliant, the noise starting in one area, down by the corner in the Holmesdale Road stand, and swiftly spreading around the ground. Even losing, Palace fans were deafening. Mile Jedinak, Joel Ward and Delaney, amongst others, have stood up for Palace during difficult times. Marouane Chamakh has been frequently kicked, and got an early whack from Sakho here, but kept going, providing a forward clearing house. Chamakh was also deputed to drop back and try to stop Gerrard building.

Tears in the stand: A Liverpool fan is disbelief after Crystal Palace's comeback.

Tears in the stand: A Liverpool fan is disbelief after Crystal Palace's comeback. Photo: Getty Images

Chamakh almost created a chance, passing to Puncheon who was closed down by Gerrard. Palace were suddenly busy, worrying Liverpool.

The visiting fans had been chanting "attack, attack, attack", showing their desire to whittle down City's superior goal difference, but there was plenty of defending to do. Mignolet saved from Puncheon and then did magnificently to throw up his right hand and divert Jedinak's shot over.

Liverpool responded, chasing that second before the break.

A wonderful flowing move, from Gerrard to Allen to Suarez was ended by Speroni's excellent save at the near post. It was only a matter of time.

Palace emerged early for the second half, warming up by running around some cones but soon being caught cold. Suarez could have had a penalty when impeded by Scott Dann but Mark Clattenburg waved play on, even booking him for remonstrating. Liverpool would not be distracted, quickly scoring two more within three minutes as the SAS went to work.

After 53 minutes, Sturridge's deflected shot sneaked past the wrong-footed Speroni. Then Suarez scored a gem, exchanging passes with Sterling, before drilling his 31st Premier League goal of the season past Speroni. Liverpool were not even bothering to celebrate, racing back to the centre-circle, eager to get on with addressing those goal difference arrears.

Instead of adding to their lead, Liverpool saw it attacked by Palace, who suddenly had second wind, partly because of Pulis's subs had energized the side. With 11 minutes remaining, Delaney let fly, the ball clipping Johnson and continuing into the net. Palace raised the volume even more. Two minutes later, Bolassie broke down the left, flying past Johnson and squaring to Gayle, who made it 2-3.

There was more. Gayle again blasting through, shredding Liverpool's title dream, delighting City and Palace fans alike. "3-0 and you ******* it up".

The Telegraph, London

Hyundai A - 2014-15 - All Rounds

Round 1
Fri, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 4 vs WST 1 Report Stats
Sat, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs NEW Report Stats
SYD 1 vs MEC 1 Report Stats
Sun, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs PER 2 Report Stats
BRI 1 vs ADE 2 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs VIC 1 Report Stats
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs WEL 2 Report Stats
SYD 3 vs WST 2 Report Stats
Sun, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
MEC 1 vs NEW 1 Report Stats
PER 3 vs BRI 2 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs SYD 2 Report Stats
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 5 vs MEC 2 Report Stats
Sun, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs NEW 16:00WS
ADE vs PER 17:00Coopers Stadium
Wed, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
WST vs CCM 17:00Pirtek Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs ADE 19:30AAMI
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
PER vs NEW 17:00NIB
WST vs BRI 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs CCM 16:00AS
Mon, 03 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs WEL 19:30AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs WST 18:30WS
ADE vs SYD 20:15Coopers Stadium
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs VIC 17:00HUN
BRI vs MEC 20:30SS
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs PER 17:00Central Coast Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs BRI 19:30HUN
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs WEL 17:00Coopers Stadium
SYD vs VIC 19:30AS
PER vs WST 21:45NIB
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs CCM 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs BRI 19:30ES
Sat, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
WST vs NEW 17:00Pirtek Stadium
MEC vs SYD 19:30AAMI
PER vs WEL 21:45NIB
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs ADE 17:00Central Coast Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs ADE 19:00AAMI
Sat, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs PER 17:00SS
WST vs SYD 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MEC 16:00WS
NEW vs CCM 17:00HUN
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Wed, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs NEW 20:00SS
Tue, 09 DecTimes shown AEDT
WST vs PER 19:30TBC
Thu, 08 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs SYD 17:30WS
Mon, 02 FebTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs CCM 19:30AAMI
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs MEC 19:30Coopers Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs PER 19:30AS
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 19:30TBC
Sat, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs WEL 17:00HUN
ADE vs WST 20:00Coopers Stadium
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs BRI 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs BRI 19:30Coopers Stadium
PER vs NEW 21:45NIB
Sat, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs CCM 16:00EP
WST vs MEC 17:00Pirtek Stadium
VIC vs SYD 19:30ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs WST 20:00SS
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs ADE 17:00HUN
MEC vs VIC 19:30AAMI
PER vs CCM 21:45NIB
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 17:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs PER 17:30AAMI
SYD vs ADE 19:30AS
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs BRI 17:00Central Coast Stadium
VIC vs NEW 19:30AAMI
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs WST 17:00WS
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs MEC 17:00HUN
BRI vs SYD 20:00SS
Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs WEL 19:30Coopers Stadium
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WST vs CCM 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs PER 19:30Simonds Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs NEW 19:30WIN Stadium
Sun, 04 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs BRI 15:00WS
CCM vs MEC 17:00Central Coast Stadium
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER vs ADE 23:00NIB
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WST vs VIC 19:30Pirtek Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs NEW 17:00Coopers Stadium
CCM vs SYD 19:30Central Coast Stadium
Sun, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER vs VIC 20:00NIB
Sun, 01 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs WEL 15:00SS
MEC vs WST 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs BRI 19:30HUN
Sat, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs ADE 17:00Central Coast Stadium
VIC vs MEC 19:30ES
PER vs SYD 21:45NIB
Sun, 08 FebTimes shown AEDT
WST vs WEL 17:00Pirtek Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs BRI 19:30Central Coast Stadium
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MEC 16:00Brendan Foot Kia Hutt Recreation Ground
NEW vs WST 17:00HUN
SYD vs VIC 19:30AS
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PER 17:00Coopers Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs VIC 20:00SS
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs CCM 17:00AS
ADE vs WST 20:00Coopers Stadium
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs NEW 16:00Brendan Foot Kia Hutt Recreation Ground
MEC vs PER 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs ADE 19:30AAMI
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs CCM 17:00HUN
WST vs SYD 19:30Pirtek Stadium
PER vs BRI 21:45NIB
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs WEL 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs SYD 19:30HUN
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs ADE 18:00Brendan Foot Kia Hutt Recreation Ground
VIC vs PER 19:30AAMI
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs MEC 15:00Central Coast Stadium
BRI vs WST 17:00SS
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs CCM 19:30Coopers Stadium
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WST vs VIC 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs BRI 19:30AS
PER vs WEL 21:45NIB
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs NEW 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MEC 19:30AS
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WST vs NEW 17:00Pirtek Stadium
ADE vs VIC 20:00Coopers Stadium
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs PER 15:00Central Coast Stadium
BRI vs WEL 17:00SS
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs CCM 19:30AAMI
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEC vs BRI 19:30AAMI
PER vs WST 21:45NIB
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs SYD 15:00WS
NEW vs ADE 17:00HUN
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs CCM 21:00SS
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WST vs MEC 16:00Pirtek Stadium
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs ADE 19:30AS
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs VIC 16:00WS
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW vs PER 16:00HUN
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC vs NEW 19:30AAMI
PER vs SYD 21:45NIB
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE vs BRI 17:00Coopers Stadium
CCM vs WST 19:30Central Coast Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
MEC vs WEL 17:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs CCM 17:30WS
NEW vs SYD 19:45HUN
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
WST vs ADE 17:00Pirtek Stadium
BRI vs VIC 19:30SS
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
PER vs MEC 17:00NIB
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A - 2014-15 - Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W D L +/- Pts
Melbourne Victory FC 3 2 1 0 6 7
Sydney FC 3 2 1 0 3 7
Perth Glory FC 2 2 0 0 2 6
Adelaide United FC 2 1 1 0 1 4
Wellington Phoenix FC 2 1 0 1 0 3
Central Coast Mariners FC 2 1 0 1 0 3
Melbourne City FC 3 0 2 1 -3 2
Newcastle Jets FC 2 0 1 1 -1 1
View all
 
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