Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool: Final score 3-3, Reds' title hopes crushed by historic comeback

Clive Rose

Somehow, some way, Liverpool threw away a 3-0 lead in just 10 minutes.

Liverpool's title hopes are hanging on by a thread after a historic collapse at Selhurst Park. The Reds took a 3-0 lead and looked to be cruising to a comfortable win until the 79th minute, when the game was flipped on its head completely. Crystal Palace absolutely wrecked them, scoring three goals in 10 minutes, earning a spectacular 3-3 draw.

Tony Pulis' sides are renown for their prowess at defending set pieces, but they looked completely out of sorts during the first half. They should have conceded a goal in the 8th minute when Mamadou Sakho missed a completely free header and they were punished when they made a similar mistake 10 minutes later.

Sakho is expected to get chances on set pieces, but the scorer of Liverpool's first half goal was an unlikely one: Joe Allen. The diminutive midfielder lost Joe Ledley with a looping run and was completely free when the ball found him at the back post, allowing him to head past Julian Speroni.

Palace were the more dangerous side for the rest of the half and were unlucky not to score on one of the two shots that were expertly batted away by Simon Mignolet. He pushed a low drive by Jason Puncheon away in the 33rd minute, then made a spectacular stop on a high rocket by Mile Jedinak two minutes later.

Liverpool had the first big chance of the second half, in the 51st minute. Speroni came up big with a great save on a curling shot by Daniel Sturridge, tipping the ball onto the post. It fell to Luis Suarez, who should have scored, but he missed despite having a completely empty net to shoot at.

The Reds didn't have to wait much longer for their second goal, however. Sturridge was the scorer in the 53rd minute, and he got a bit of help. A fairly innocuous shot took a deflection off a Palace defender, and the redirection made the shot impossible for Speroni to stop. Two minutes after that, Liverpool scored again, with Suarez playing a one-two with Raheem Sterling at the top of the box before surging forward and finished from 12 yards. The goal was Suarez's 31st, tying a record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season that was jointly held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Stunningly, after looking dead in the water for much of the second half, Palace were able to mount a late comeback. Their first goal, in the 79th minute, came in a lucky fashion similar to Sturridge's goal. Damien Delaney was credited with the goal, but it was clear that his shot -- while on target -- would not have beaten Mignolet without hitting the back of a Liverpool defender.

The second was a bit more spectacular, and all down to a brilliant individual effort by Yannick Bolasie, who made a box-to-box run before providing the assist. After winning the ball back in their own penalty area, Palace's defense found Bolasie, who beat the Liverpool midfield and Glen Johnson by himself. Once in the Liverpool box, he cut back for substitute Dwight Gayle, who slotted a gorgeous first-time shot into the back of the net from 12 yards.

Seven minutes later, Gayle struck again, scoring Palace's third goal in less than 10 minutes, and it was well deserved. Liverpool were completely on the back foot from Delaney's goal onward, and Gayle completed the comeback with an excellent run and finish at the end of a direct move. Fellow substitute Glenn Murray assisted him, chesting a direct ball directly to him in stride, and he hit a finish as cool as the one for his first.

Liverpool flailed at the goal for the final two minutes of regulation and five minutes of stoppage time, but Palace's frantic defending was better than Liverpool's frantic attacking. They had no answer for Palace, and will leave London heartbroken.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Ledley, Jedinak, Dikgacoi (Ince 85'), Bolasie, Chamakh (Murray 71'), Puncheon (Gayle 65')

Goals: Delaney (79'), Gayle (81', 88')

Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan, Sakho, Skrtel, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Lucas, Sterling (Coutinho 78'), Suarez, Sturridge (Moses 86')

Goals: Allen (18'), Sturridge (53'), Suarez (55')

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