Palace 3-3 Liverpool
Crystal Palace staged one of the most astonishing comebacks in Premier League history to derail Liverpool’s title charge at a rocking Selhurst Park. Goals from Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez saw the title chaser lead 3-0 going into the 78th minute before the Eagles stormed back from the dead.
The start of the fight back came from the most unlikely source. Damien Delaney, who had not scored since October 2012, let fly from 25 yards and with the aid of a Glen Johnson deflection the ball flew past Simon Mignolet and into the top corner.
"Palace’s record signing was not finished there."
The second followed hot on the heels as forgotten man Dwight Gayle climbed from the Crystal Palace bench to beautifully side foot home a Yannick Bolasie centre. And Palace’s record signing was not finished there. Two minutes from time, with the Liverpool defence sitting deeper than the Titanic, boyhood Liverpool fan Scott Dann chipped a ball into the edge of the Liverpool box where Glenn Murray produced one of the assists of the season, chesting the ball over Skrtel and into the path of Gayle who made no mistake with his finish.
In the space of nine short minutes Brendan Rogers men had managed to turn 3 points into 1 as their defensive frailties were once more exposed. Not from the long ball and long throws that the Liverpool gaffer had at expected, but by free flowing counter attacking football that any team in the Premier League would have been proud of.
As the full time whistle sounded, Suarez burst into tears and Steven Gerrard left as glum faced as another England Captain, John Terry, did at Selhurst Park a few short weeks ago.
This comeback depicted Crystal Palace’s season in a nutshell. A spirited start but undone by superior quality only to rediscover belief in themselves as a unit and turn everything upside down.
With this draw Crystal Palace dismantled a second title challenge of the season and guaranteed an 11th place finish in the Premier League. It is now a real possibility that the mastermind behind it all, Tony Pulis, could be crowned as the Premier League Manager of the Season. He currently sits as the 4/7 outright favourite with the bookies.
Not bad for the team that was supposed to post the lowest points total the Premier League had ever seen.
Gayle will claim the Crystal Palace Goal of the Season crown tonight at Fairfield Halls for his strike with the last kick of the game at Villa Park back on Boxing Day. If there was an award for Substitute of the Season, he would undoubtedly be taking that home as well.
His introduction to the game, “you hope it works but you never really know” said Pulis after the game, kick started a comeback that, in the words of one Liverpool fan on their forum, “shook the Barclays Premier League.”
"His strike at Villa Park arguably salvaged his Crystal Palace career."
His strike at Villa Park arguably salvaged his Crystal Palace career. Rumours have it that he was nearing depression at his lack of playing time and this was affecting his performances. That goal transformed his season. Pulis started to see the real Dwight Gayle on the training field and the gaffer fully rates the striker and with his desire to play with pace on the break, there could very well be a place for the former Posh man next season.
Last night was a glimpse of the affect that he could have. Scoring for the 3rd and 4th time since Aston Villa on Boxing Day, a feat achieved in just 77 minutes worth of playing time, and he did it against a team challenging for the title.
His first showed most of his qualities. His pace to keep up with the rampant Yannick Bolasie on the break, his movement as he darted for the near post only to pull back a yard and a half and completely lose his man and a cool finish that gave Mignolet absolutely no chance between the sticks.
His second is nothing short of a phenomenal goal. Asides from the outrageous Murray assist, the ability of Gayle to read this unpredictable play was special and his finish is world class.
World class? Am I getting carried away? Absolutely not. There is an angle from behind the goal that shows that not Gayle does not take his eyes off the ball at any point. He reads the flick, picks up the ball and never looks at the goal or the keeper but only at the ball and slots the ball into the back of the net. Only natural goal scorers of the highest order have the ability to do this.
Take a bow son.
I am not quite sure if I am going to be able to write this without chocking up but his actions at the end of the game suggested to me that this could be his final game at Selhurst Park. I am hoping that he was just throwing caution to the wind but it looked so final.
In Flying High Magazine Joe Walker talked about Pulis at Stoke and his signing of Begovic. He signed a young goalkeeper to replace his older keeper in the long run. After one season on the bench, Begovic fully replaced Sorensen the following season.
This is ominous for Jules and unlike Sorensen I do not expect to see Speroni sign a new contract to be mere back up to Wayne Hennessey.
With Speroni looking set to claim the RedNBlueArmy Player of the Year award it is clear that his performances this season have been too good to just discard him. He has raised his game beyond levels of which I thought he was capable and I see no reason why he could not produce this level of performance next season.
Come on, Pulis. We love him. Don’t break our hearts.
The World Goes Crazy
Now I need to head for more light-hearted pastures as that was all too emotional for me. Let’s start with Robert Huth: “Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban.” You hear that Suarez? Even my mum texted me and asked why you were “crying like a little bitch.” Man up.
Now on to Samir Nasri: “What a game, what a league, I love Crystal Palace so much, now our turn to do the job.” Thanks for the declarations of love but I would have preferred that you didn’t dive and roll around so much at Selhurst Park last week instead.
Ralf Little of The Royle Family fame: “My mate Dwight Gayle has just written his name into football history. United fans – I helped him get a start in football. You’re welcome.”
Comedian John “Bish” Bishop: “Gutted about the result – but I have to say the Palace fans deserve to stay up – great supporters.”
Gary Neville of SkySports fame and definitely a better fullback than Glenn Johnson: “They are the best fans in the country by a millions miles.”
Finally some random Brazilian bloke on twitter: “Crystal Palace fans are the best in the EPL. They don’t stop singing and cheering their team even if they’re down in the result. Awesome.”
We know, we know!
The Liverpool Forum Best Bits
In chronological order…
“3-0 Down and still playing with 4 or 5 at the back. That’s why I hate Tony Pulis.”
“To be fair, at this point he is playing to avoid further humiliation.”
“It’s football without ambition or style.”
“Why were we ever worried about this fixture?”
“We could get 5 or 6 here.”
“So fed up of Johnson”
“Ultimately we aren’t deserving champions with this leaky defence and I’ll accept that.”
“Palace have come alive and this is why we were worried about this fixture.”
“I’ve never seen us capitulate like this.”
“Absolutely furious beyond words at this gutless pile of sh*t we have on the pitch right now.”
“Now I know how Milan felt in 2005.” << Was this the start of #crystanbul?
“The reaction in this match thread is a f**king disgrace. Absolutely embarrassing.”
At least one of them realised at the end there!
Man of the Match: Yannick Bolasie
Did anyone see him go off to the side line and inject himself with anything with about 15 minutes to go?
His performance had been good up until then but then he just took it to a whole new level! Liverpool just had no idea how to handle him and he made Glenn Johnson look worse than he actually is… which is quite bad.
His burst of pace for the second goal was Usain Bolt-esque and his levelheadedness at the end of his run to pick out Gayle was something completely new to his game.
“His erratic but you wouldn’t want to play against him” said Gary Neville.
You’re damn right!
Get alongside Dwighty, Yannick, and take a bow son.
The best of the season. I thought Cardiff away would keep that crown but my word.
Take the comeback out of the scenario and it was still sheer brilliance from the Selhurst Park faithful. Singing our little heads off at 0-3 had already won the appraisals, yet again, of the millions watching at home. The comeback and the atmosphere that then followed probably saw us gain thousands of fans that will now claim that we are their second team.
There was a perfect balance between supporting the team and ridiculing the Scousers and it will live long in my memory of yet another great night under the floodlights in SE25.
Come on you Palace!