Liverpool travelled to Selhurst Park knowing they needed a win against Crystal Palace to keep alive their slim title chances.
Crystal Palace 3 Liverpool 3
The Redmen went into the game on a Monday night in South London level on points with City but with an inferior goal difference, and the Manchester club had home games against Aston Villa and West Ham to come.
The visitors started in the typical clinical fashion that had seen them favourites for the title up until a 2-0 loss to Chelsea, as Joe Allen headed Steven Gerrard’s corner past Julian Speroni to give Liverpool a lead inside 20 minutes.
Daniel Sturridge doubled the lead for Brendan Rodgers’ men in the second half as his shot from just outside the area took a cruel deflection and rolled slowly across the line.
Luis Suarez then made it 3-0 when he converted coolly after a quick exchange with Raheem Sterling, and all of a sudden Liverpool were beginning to sense blood with the goal difference deficit down from nine to six.
The Guardian perfectly summed up events to that points, with the away team looking like making the game a complete rout.
“At one point, shortly after Suárez had given them a 3-0 lead, a loud cry had gone up from the Liverpool end of “We’re going to win the league”. Their team had looked like worthy champions and were actually in the process of trying to chase down Manchester City’s superior goal difference.”
Then, out of nowhere, Damien Delaney sparked the home crowd into life when his shot from range deflected past Simon Mignolet.
If the Reds weren’t panicked by that, they were two minutes later when substitute Dwight Gayle neatly converted a Yannick Bolasie square ball from inside the area.
The miraculous comeback was complete in the 88th minute, when Glenn Murray chested a ball down to Gayle that carved the opponents’ defence open again, and the former Peterborough man finished emphatically to make it 3-3.
Liverpool left the field clearly heartbroken, with Luis Suarez in tears and Rodgers looking utterly shellshocked, as recalled by the BBC.
“As Palace players celebrated, Liverpool’s reacted in a manner which suggested they believe their title challenge is finally over.”
They would go on to miss out on the Premier League by two points as City didn’t slip up, meaning the Merseysiders were denied their first title since 1990.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Ward, Dikgacoi, Dann, Delaney, Puncheon, Jedinak, Chamakh, Ledley, Bolasie. Substitutes: Parr, Ince, O’Keefe, Gayle, Murray, Gabbidon, Hennessey.
Goals: Delaney 79, Gayle 81 + 87
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Gerrard, Skrtel, Sakho, Lucas, Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez, Allen. Substitutes: Jones, K Touré, Agger, Iago Aspas, Coutinho, Moses, Cissokho.
Goals: Allen 18, Delaney 53 (OG), Suarez 55
What they said
Brendan Rodgers conceded the title to City in his post match interview.
“We needed to win tonight. Man City have two home games and we needed to win tonight to keep the pressure on. I think City will go on and win their two games now. They will be champions. But for us it’s been an outstanding achievement until now.
“At 3-0 we gave them a sniff, and they have some good players who can punish you. This is something we’ll improve on for next season. We got better this season from last season, and we need to get better again next year.”
Tony Pulis felt his side were always in with a sniff, even at 3-0 down.
“I felt if we scored, the pressure would build on Liverpool. Then, once we did score, the ascendency seemed to be with us because of our wonderful support.
“It’s as if Liverpool opened the gates and we poured through them. We had nothing to lose. The goal lifted the lads and the stadium. We had momentum.”