Liverpool scored within two minutes at Selhurst Park, but the hosts had equalized by the time 20 minutes were up. But it was the second half that proved the death of the Reds, with Crystal Palace scoring two goals in three minutes, finishing the game with a 3-1 victory.
With Mario Balotelli out with injury, Brendan Rodgers gave a rare league start to Rickie Lambert. Fellow ex-Southampton man Adam Lallana was in the starting lineup as well, and before three minutes were up, the two had combined as though they'd never left St. Mary's.
Lallana had no trouble getting the better of Martin Kelly, after which he sent a long ball across the top. Lambert cut inside behind the Palace defense, and had no trouble beating Julian Speroni for his first goal in a Liverpool shirt.
But while Liverpool may have got off to a dream start, their defense let them down yet again. Yannick Bolasie exploited the space in front of the Reds' backline, sending in a great shot from outside the area. The shot smacked the woodwork, but the rebound fell to an onrushing Dwight Gayle, who sent it into an empty net for a 1-1 tie.
After the restart, Palace made it clear that they weren't going to sit back and play for a point. Their first attack was ended by the offside flag, but Bolasie continued to make it a personal mission to torment the poor Liverpool defense.
As the rain continued to soak Selhurst Park, it also dampened the pitch. The majority of chances were coming from free kicks, and even those were barely threatening. The game seemed crying out for substitutions. Instead the players, possibly growing a bit bored, started picking up the pace, resulting in decent chances at both ends.
Rodgers finally made a change at the 72nd minute, bringing off Lambert for Fabio Borini. Two minutes later, off came Joe Allen, his head wrapped festively in a bandage from an early injury, in favor of Emre Can. Neil Warnock then countered by putting on James McArthur for Jason Puncheon, who'd been rather ineffective all afternoon.
Minutes later, Palace were ahead. Bolasie, switched to the right flank, had absolutely no trouble holding off Dejan Lovren to capitalize on a throw-in. Joe Ledley, speeding -- unmarked -- toward the center of the area, latched on to the pass from Bolasie and sent his shot through Simon Mignolet's legs.
A one-goal lead just wasn't enough for the hosts, however, and within four minutes they'd doubled their advantage. The whistle blew for Martin Skrtel's pull on Gayle's shirt, setting up a free kick for Mile Jedinak. The captain sent in an absolutely delicious free kick, curling around and over the wall before flying into the top corner of Mignolet's net.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Delaney (Hangeland 36), Dann, Kelly; Bolasie (Bannan 86), Ledley, Jedinak, Puncheon (McArthur 75); Chamakh; Gayle
goals: Gayle 17'; Ledley 78'; Jedinak 81'
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Manquillo; Allen (Can 74), Gerrard, Lallana; Coutinho, Lambert, (Borini 72), Sterling
goals: Lambert 2'