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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 WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs NEW Stats
SYD 1 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs PER 2 Stats
BRI 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs VIC 1 Stats
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
SYD 3 vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 3 vs BRI 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 5 vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4 vs NEW 1 Stats
ADE 2 vs PER Stats
Wed, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
PER 2 vs NEW 1 Stats
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2 vs CCM Stats
Mon, 03 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs WEL Stats
Wed, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs BRI 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
ADE vs SYD Stats
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs VIC 2 Stats
BRI 1 vs MCY 3 Stats
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs BRI 4 Stats
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
SYD vs VIC Stats
PER 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2 vs CCM 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs BRI Stats
PER 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
Sat, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs NEW 1 Stats
MCY 1 vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3 vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs PER 1 Stats
WSW 1 vs SYD 1 Stats
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 5 vs MCY 1 Stats
NEW 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1 vs PER 2 Stats
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs BRI Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs BRI 1 Stats
PER 2 vs NEW Stats
Sat, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs SYD 3 Stats
Wed, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 3 vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs VIC Stats
PER 4 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 2 Stats
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs WSW 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs PER 1 Stats
SYD vs ADE 3 Stats
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3 vs BRI 3 Stats
VIC 1 vs NEW Stats
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs MCY 5 Stats
BRI vs SYD Stats
Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs NEW Stats
Sun, 04 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3 vs BRI Stats
CCM 2 vs MCY Stats
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 7 vs NEW Stats
CCM 1 vs SYD 5 Stats
Sun, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 01 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Mon, 02 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 3 vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs MCY Stats
PER 1 vs SYD 3 Stats
Sun, 08 FebTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2 vs WEL Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MCY Stats
NEW 1 vs WSW 1 Stats
SYD 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 4 vs CCM 2 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2 vs NEW 2 Stats
MCY vs PER Stats
Wed, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs CCM Stats
WSW 3 vs SYD 4 Stats
PER 2 vs BRI 2 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs WEL 3 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2 vs ADE Stats
VIC 1 vs PER 1 Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs MCY Stats
BRI 1 vs WSW Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 4 vs NEW Stats
PER 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 5 vs BRI 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs NEW 2 Stats
ADE 2 vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs BRI Stats
PER 3 vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs SYD 3 Stats
NEW vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs VIC 3 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC vs NEW 1 Stats
PER vs SYD 3 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 2 vs BRI 3 Stats
CCM 1 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY vs WEL Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 3 vs CCM 2 Stats
NEW 3 vs SYD 4 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
BRI vs VIC 1 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
PER 3 vs MCY 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 2 vs NEW 1 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 1 vs PER 2 Stats
ADE 4 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 1 vs SYD 2 Stats
VIC 3 vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 28
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 2 vs BRI 1 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
WEL vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 29
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
VIC 3 vs MCY Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 4 vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 30
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
VIC 3 vs SYD Stats
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A - 2014-15 - Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L +/- Pts
Melbourne Victory 27 15 4 25 53
Sydney FC 27 14 5 17 50
Adelaide United 27 14 9 15 46
Wellington Phoenix 27 14 9 10 46
Melbourne City FC 27 9 10 -5 35
Brisbane Roar 27 10 13 -1 34
Perth Glory 27 14 5 10 50
Central Coast Mariners 27 5 14 -24 23
View all
 
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