Crystal Palace v Liverpool: A flashback to the dramatic 3-3 draw

By Marc HigginsonBBC Sport
Liverpool's Luis Suarez & Steven Gerrard
Liverpool had only trailed Manchester City on goal difference before drawing at Palace

Liverpool head to Selhurst Park on Sunday, where they will revisit the scene of one of the most dramatic draws in their history.

Their last meeting with Crystal Palace - a 3-3 draw on Monday 5 May - could quite justifiably lay claim to being named game of the 2013-14 season. Perhaps more pertinently, it produced quite possibly the most important result of the campaign.

Liverpool went into the match on the same number of points as Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Both teams had two games left but crucially, City had a superior goal difference of nine.

The Reds had an opportunity to go top when they visited Palace 24 hours before City next played, at home to Aston Villa.

Here, BBC Sport recalls the dramatic events which followed at Selhurst Park, with the help of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, his then Palace counterpart Tony Pulis, the Liverpool Echo's Anfield reporter James Pearce, ex-Leicester striker Steve Claridge who was a summariser for BBC Radio 5 live that night, and Reds supporter Nico Fleche.

Premier League table before the game
Man City3625569637+5980

Build-up to the game

James Pearce: "Going into the game, there was talk of Liverpool having to win but also score a lot of goals in doing so. The goal difference was nine and Brendan Rodgers had spoken about how he had not given up hope of turning round that deficit. Liverpool had been so free-scoring, with the firepower of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge."

Nico Fleche: "We did believe we would win the title. We had that much momentum that we actually believed we could beat them [Manchester City] on goal difference."

Tony Pulis: "Don't forget, we were on a good run of form ourselves - we had won five out of our previous six matches. It was a great game to be involved in."

Steve Claridge: "I saw Liverpool at Cardiff a couple of months before the match at Palace and they were 2-1 down but won 6-3. They could have conceded six. It was all down to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge that they won that game."

Joe Allen gives Liverpool the lead
Tony Pulis: "We had not conceded a goal from a set-play since I came to the club then Joe Allen, the smallest player on the pitch, scored with a header."

Kick-off - Liverpool take an early lead - 0-1

Liverpool opened the scoring after 18 minutes through Joe Allen. Palace then brought a couple of fine saves out of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet while Suarez and Sturridge were a constant menace at the other end.

Pulis: "We had not conceded a goal from a set-play since I came to the club then Joe Allen, the smallest player on the pitch, scored with a header. If you looked at that Liverpool team, they scored a lot. Players like Suarez were a nuisance going forward but, at the back, I knew we could cause them problems. Their defence didn't look strong at times. If they were put under pressure, we had a chance."

Half-time stats
Crystal PalaceLiverpool
3Shots on goal12
2Shots on target3

Half-time - so far so good for Liverpool

Liverpool went into the break 1-0 up, having dominated possession with 12 shots on goal compared to Palace's three.

Brendan Rodgers: "Our objective was just to win the game - we said that at half-time, the message was clear… if it's 1-0, it's 1-0."

Pulis: "At half-time I had a go at my centre-halves, Scott Dann and Damien Delaney, for not getting tight enough to Suarez and Sturridge."

Early in the second half, Liverpool score two quick goals - 0-3

In the first 10 minutes of the second period, Liverpool scored twice in quick succession - Daniel Sturridge's low, deflected shot trickling past Julian Speroni and being credited as an own goal by Damien Delaney, before Suarez made it 3-0 to the visitors after a neat one-two with Raheem Sterling.

Pulis: "After the break, Delaney gets an own goal and Suarez scores. I just turned to one of my coaches, Dave Kemp, and said something along the lines of 'well, that half-time team talk worked'."

Pearce: "When the third goal went in, the players went to celebrate and quickly realised they needed to get the ball because there was still 35 minutes left. At that point, you kind of thought that Palace, who had nothing to play for, might just capitulate and it could become five, six or seven. Suddenly Rodgers's dream of turning that goal difference around could have happened."

Claridge: "They were now 3-0 up and had missed three or four other good chances, so they had every right to think about overturning that goal difference."

Fleche: "At 3-0, there was a genuine belief that we would go on and win 6-0 or even 7-0. After each goal, there was a lot of chanting which centred on 'attack, attack, attack'. Then it all went wrong."

Liverpool's Luis Suarez
Reporter James Pearce: "When the third goal went in, the players went to celebrate and quickly realised they needed to get the ball because there was still 35 minutes left."

Palace pull one back - 1-3

Pulis sent on striker Dwight Gayle for Jason Puncheon after 65 minutes, the first of three attacking substitutions which also saw Glenn Murray and Tom Ince summoned from the bench. However, with 11 minutes left, it was defender Delaney who pulled one back for Palace with a deflected 25-yard shot.

Rodgers: "We got two quick goals after the break and maybe the excitement and enthusiasm to try and claw back the goal difference overtook us."

Pulis: "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."

Pearce: "I'd love to say the alarm bells were ringing when Palace pulled one back but I thought it was purely a consolation. At 3-0 up with 11 minutes to go, Liverpool were cruising and they were pushing players forward in search of more goals. Once the first Palace goal went in, you thought that would kill the goal difference issue but the thing that struck me about that night was that the atmosphere was sensational in the last 10 minutes."

Claridge: "My main memory is that Liverpool continued to play in the same way, right from being 3-0 up to it being 3-3. It was bonkers to watch it."

Then Palace score another - 2-3

Suddenly, Palace had momentum and substitute Gayle scored the hosts' second goal in two minutes when he swept into the back of the net from Yannick Bolasie's square pass. It was 3-2 to Liverpool with nine minutes of normal time to play...

Claridge: "I wasn't surprised Liverpool didn't tighten up because it's the way they played all season. I was disappointed in some of the senior pros who should have told the rest of the team to kill the game. They kept playing the same way even though they weren't dominating the game.

"The game had changed so all that needed to happen was for the full-backs not to run forward and the midfielders to sit. Get men behind the ball and Liverpool would have won the game. But nothing changed. Ultimately it was the manager's fault, he's the man who had to tell his players just to sit back for 10 minutes."

Fleche: "The tactics were right in that by scoring a lot of goals it would have put a lot of pressure on City. In hindsight, I think that was the only way we could have won the title. We had to go for it. When it got to 3-1 and 3-2, it wasn't to do with tactics, it was more a case of things going wrong quickly and the belief draining from the players who suddenly lost their confidence."

Palace equalise - 3-3

Dwight Gayle equalises for Crystal Palace
Liverpool fan Nico Fleche: "The equaliser felt like the end of everything, like the season was over."

Liverpool's title hopes came crashing down around them when Gayle scored his second of the game with two minutes to go, the young striker latching on to a chest-down from a long ball and rifling past Simon Mignolet. 3-3.

Fleche: "The equaliser felt like the end of everything, like the season was over. It felt like all the pressure had been taken off City's shoulders."

Pearce: "It's still pretty vivid, and not one of my greatest nights in the job for many reasons - not least for having to file a match report on the final whistle for a game which gets transformed like that in the final 10 minutes."

Claridge: "Liverpool were a team who looked completely disorganised, like a team who were just rolling the dice."

Pearce: "Ironically, Liverpool went back to the top of the table that night, courtesy of that point, however everyone knew that was the night when the title race was decided."

Pulis: "Both Dwight Gayle and Victor Moses missed great chances to make it 4-3 for either side right at the end."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis: "I knew he would have been devastated and I did feel for my fellow manager."

The final whistle

Pearce: "At the end, there were scenes of absolute devastation. Suarez was reduced to tears and Steven Gerrard was shooing the cameras away."

Fleche: "Everyone was deflated. There were some tears around and there was a television clip that went around of fans crying, which I'm on. I wasn't crying, I was consoling the others. There was a lot of silence, awkward looks and deflated faces."

Pulis: "There was a lap of honour after the game so I didn't see much of Brendan. I knew he would have been devastated and I did feel for my fellow manager.

"My overriding memory of that night is that lap of honour. Twenty minutes after the final whistle, no Palace supporter had left the ground. It turned out to be my final home game in charge."

A Liverpool supporter
Liverpool fan Nico Fleche: "There was a lot of silence, awkward looks and deflated faces."

Pearce: "I had 10 minutes to do my rewrite and, what made it worse was that the wifi went down in the press box. There were people all around me cursing because they couldn't send their copy through. After that I had another 45 minutes to do a more considered piece.

"In that time, we had to take in all of what we had just seen. It's very rare you get a night like that where the whole complexion of a season is transformed in the space of a few minutes. I remember one person saying it was like Istanbul in reverse, and it really was.

"We had two people at the game so I went down to the mixed zone to try and interview some players. Kolo Toure was the only person who stopped to speak to us and he very briefly answered a couple of questions. It was just a scene of absolute devastation."

Final match stats
Crystal PalaceLiverpool
10Shots on goal26
6Shots on target8

On reflection

Rodgers: "That night probably ended our hopes of winning it, but I was still incredibly proud of my players."

Pearce: "What happened at Chelsea a week earlier had handed the initiative to Manchester City, but the players knew it was that night at Selhurst Park when the final nail was put in the coffin. From putting City into a position where they had to win two home games, they suddenly only needed four points out of six. They knew a golden opportunity to end the club's 24-year wait for a league title had slipped from their grasp."

Claridge: "It was almost an underachievement not to win the league with a player like Suarez. I've never seen a player like him in the Premier League. Gareth Bale came close, but the impact he had on the season was just scary. Everything he did was just incredible.

"I didn't like Liverpool's system but they had two players [Suarez and Sturridge] who were unplayable. Together, their play beggared belief - I have never seen anything like it. But having a player like Suarez covered over a multitude of sins, and I think we are seeing that this season."

Premier League table after the game
Man City36255696375980

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