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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
21:55 6th May 2014


This season's action at Selhurst Park came to a close in thrilling fashion as Palace rallied to score three late goals in nine minutes to claim an unlikely point and stun title-challenging Liverpool.

If a single game could sum up the Eagles' season this would be it, as the hosts looked down and out before dragging themselves back into game and finishing with a flourish to stun the league leaders.

When Damien Delaney's long-range effort flew into the top corner to make it 3-1 it seemed to be a mere consolation, until super-sub Dwight Gayle popped up with a second a couple of minutes later – and an incredible season at Selhurst came to a crescendo when the striker popped up with another two minutes from time to complete a stunning comeback.

Joe Allen gave the Reds an early advantage and despite managing to keep the goal-hungry visitors out until half-time, strikes by Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez in the opening 10 minutes of the second seemed to have ended Eagles hopes, but the unbelievable climax all but ends the Reds' title hopes for another year. 

The pattern for an entertaining evening was set just eight minutes in when a Steven Gerrard corner found Mamadou Sakho unmarked in the area but his downward header spun wide of the post, and six minutes later a raking pass by Allen found Glen Johnson in behind the Eagles defence but his header looped over Julian Speroni but also the crossbar.

But after 18 minutes the Reds did find a way past Speroni as they opened the scoring from another set-piece. Gerrard swung over another fine delivery and found Allen who steered his header goalwards, and although the Palace shot-stopper got a hand to it he couldn't prevent it nestling in the back of the net.

It was all the visitors for the majority of the first half hour and Suarez saw an audacious free-kick from 35 yards whistle past the post, but Jason Puncheon forced Simon Mignolet into his first save with a low skidder that deflected off Sakho and the Belguim keeper did well to push it away.

He was back in action a couple of minutes later when Mile Jedinak took aim from 25 yards with a piledriver which Mignolet did well to tip over, and then Puncheon watched a header fly over the top as the Eagles began to get up a head of steam.

Suarez was reported to have felt ill during the warm-up and during the opening half he didn't look like the league's top scorer as he ballooned a cut-back by Raheem Sterling high over the bar, but did try a snapshot from the byline aiming to catch Speroni out at his near post but the Argentine was equal to it.

Five minutes into the second half and he made another fine save to add to his collection this season. Sterling drifted inside and found the England striker who aimed to curl the ball into the net but the fully-stretched Speroni managed to get the slightest of fingertips onto the ball to deflect it onto the post, with Suarez blazing over the rebound.

But Sturridge did get the better of the Eagles custodian a couple of minutes later to get his goal and double the lead. A brilliant 60 yard pass by Gerrard was matched by the striker's first touch, and he drove the ball low towards goal which deflected off a Palace defender before finding the net.

And the game was over after 55 minutes when Suarez added a third. Another long pass by Sakho found the Uruguayan who played a one-two with Sterling before tucking the ball between Speroni's legs to seal the victory with a fine move.

Despite Brendan Rodgers' men eager to improve their goal difference they failed to find a fourth and within the space of four minutes they were suddenly back in the game. Firstly Delaney received the ball 25 yards out and tried his luck, and it paid off when the ball struck Johnson and flew into the top corner.

That looked like a mere consolation but when Yannick Bolasie dribbled forward on a quick counter-attack he found Dwight Gayle in the area who tucked the ball past Mignolet to send the Selhurst crowd into a frenzy.

And unbelievably he completed his brace three minutes from time when Joel Ward's long ball was neatly chested into his path by Glenn Murray and the former Peterborough United man cooly poked the ball into the net to spark wild scenes.

Liverpool nearly nicked a stoppage time winner when Gerrard's corner caused havoc and former Palace academy graduate Victor Moses was denied by Speroni, but Palace held on to secure the most unlikely of points and end the season at Selhurst on a high.

Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Dikgacoi (Ince 84), Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie, Puncheon (Gayle 64), Chamakh (Murray 71). Subs not used: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Parr, O'Keefe.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Skrtel, Sakho, Gerrard, Allen, Lucas, Sterling (Coutinho 78), Sturridge (Moses 86), Suarez. Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Agger, Aspas, Cissokho.