Liverpool dramatically let a 3-0 lead slip at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace roared back to draw 3-3 and put a huge dent in the Merseysiders' Premier League title hopes.
The visitors looked to be in cruise control, as goals from Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez gave the Reds a three-goal lead after 55 minutes. Brendan Rodgers’ side had dominated possession, had the lion’s share of the chances and looked comfortable.
However, the Eagles showed fight, which belied the fact they have nothing left to play for in the Premier League. Damian Delaney pulled one back with 11 minutes to go before substitute Dwight Gayle struck twice in the last 10 minutes to level the game up.
Liverpool were shell-shocked and could not produce a fourth goal, despite Victor Moses having a fabulous chance in added time. It was something Sky Sports Monday Night Football flagged up as a crucial moment, not just in the match but also in the title race:
Rodgers was brutally honest about his side's downfall at the climax of the game, per The Sun:
Rodgers: "Really poor defending cost us. Palace showed great spirit at 3-0 down but we have to manage the game better than that"— The Sun - Football (@TheSunFootball) May 5, 2014
Per ESPN.com's Miguel Delaney, Rodgers continued to be clear about where he felt the problems were caused:
Rodgers: "The decision-making under pressure has to improve. I've seen that before, not just tonight."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 5, 2014
The Liverpool boss was equally open about where he now sees the Premier League title heading come the end of the season, as the Premier League reported through their official Twitter account:
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers: "We needed to win tonight.., I think Man City will go on and win the two games and be champions."— Premier League (@premierleague) May 5, 2014
His opposite number, Tony Pulis, was keen to give Liverpool some encouragement, though, as they head into their last game of the season:
Pulis: "That's the Premier League this season. Don't write off Liverpool yet... in this season."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 5, 2014
Pulis went on to describe how it was the impact substitutions that made the difference for Palace on the night. Dwight Gayle came off the bench to score twice, whilst Glenn Murray and Tom Ince also had hands in the successful attacking moves late in the game.
Pulis told the London Evening Standard:
We got the impetus from the substitutions. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they don't and thank God it worked for us. The last 20 minutes were fantastic and just show the character of the players. Once we got the crowd going it was wonderful.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding Pulis' future at Palace after impressing chairmen around the country with the job he has done at Selhurst Park. However, the Welshman looked to set the record straight on the matter, as he plans to meet with his chairman, Steve Parish, per the London Evening Standard:
We're having a chat on Wednesday or Thursday when me and Steve will get out of London and have a night together to sit down and talk," he said.
This is a smashing club with fantastic support and potential but it's a way behind what it should be.
It was the same situation when I was at Stoke. I had a magnificent chairman there in Peter Coates who backed me and allowed me to build a club over seven or eight years and that's what you want. You want to do your job, you get paid to do your job and that's what I want to do.
Palace can now finish no lower than 11th in the Premier League table, a stunning achievement considering where they were when Pulis took the job.
Liverpool go to the top of the table, but Manchester City now just need four points from their remaining two games to clinch the title.