Liverpool's Luis Suarez, holds his shirt to his face following the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park stadium in London, Monday, May 5, 2014. The game ended in a 3-3 draw. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)Liverpool's Luis Suarez, holds his shirt to his face following the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park stadium in London, Monday, May 5, 2014. The game ended in a 3-3 draw. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
In a matter of 10 minutes, Liverpool went from padding their goal difference in anticipation of a final-day sprint for the title with Manchester City to surrendering three goals to Crystal Palace — each one more stinging than the last — and handing the title to Man City a week early in the process.
Though Luis Suarez matched the Premier League record for goals scored in a season (31) as Liverpool built up a 3-0 lead before the hour mark, he was still in tears after the final whistle blew and had to be led off the pitch by teammate Kolo Toure with his head buried inside his shirt. Only once before have Liverpool squandered a three-goal lead and that was 14 years ago against Southampton in a match that wasn't nearly as important as this one.
Liverpool were in total control of the match and chipping away at Man City's goal difference advantage with the confidence of chasing their first domestic league title in 24 years building. But then Crystal Palace happened. The club that manager Tony Pulis has remarkably taken from last-place to 11th in the table since he joined in late November took advantage of the dismal defending that has plagued Liverpool all season and slapped them with three goals in the final 10 minutes to snatch a 3-3 draw. The game was all but over before they did that. And after they did, it was Liverpool's season that had realistically ended (their only chance to win the title now is if they win their final match of the season against Newcastle and Man City take just three points from their last two games at home against Aston Villa and West Ham — an unlikely proposition considering they've only lost once at home all season).
Liverpool weren't expected to be title contenders this year — after all they finished seventh last season. Seventh! But they've played brilliant and entertaining football to excite fans and make them dream of a long-awaited first title in the Premier League era. As soon as they started to believe it could happen, it all began to fall apart, though. First, with Steven Gerrard's slip in a loss to Chelsea that gave control of the title race back to Man CIty and now this.
Yet this pain could prove useful to Liverpool as a counterbalance to the joy of their own comeback from 3-0 down against Milan in the 2005 Champions League, which has been a famous source of inspiration. Now back in the Champions League and still building a team that has improved much faster than most have expected, having a taste this bitter in their mouths could provide the pragmatism necessary to push them over the top next season.
Having said all of that, this was not just Liverpool's disappointment — it was just as much Crystal Palace's resilience. If this doesn't make Pulis the top choice for Manager of the Year the voters need to be investigated for a bias against baseball caps and tracksuits.
Anyway, here's more of Suarez crying and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher saying he has no sympathy for his old club...
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