Liverpool’s English Premier League title bid has been left in ruins after Crystal Palace mounted a sensational comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park.
Liverpool were on course to move three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table on Monday after quick-fire goals from Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez early in the second half stretched a lead procured by Joe Allen’s 18th-minute header.
However, Damien Delaney pulled a goal back for Palace in the 79th minute before substitute Dwight Gayle scored twice in seven minutes to rip the heart out of Liverpool’s title challenge.
It was a comeback reminiscent of Liverpool’s famous fightback against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, and left Suarez – as well as several visiting fans – in tears at the final whistle.
Liverpool lead the league again, by a point, but City now effectively need only four points from their last two games to claim the title.
They host Aston Villa on Wednesday before welcoming West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium on the final day and, with a nine-goal goal difference advantage over Liverpool, the title is theirs to lose.
Palace had not conceded a goal from a set piece this season prior to the game, but that recorded was ended in the 18th minute when Allen got away from Wales teammate Joe Ledley to head in from a Steven Gerrard corner.
Suarez almost extended Liverpool’s lead with a free kick that flashed wide, but Palace began to threaten, with visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet forced to save long-range efforts from Jason Puncheon and Mile Jedinak.
After Sturridge had seen a curling effort clawed onto the post and Suarez blazed the rebound wide, the England striker doubled his side’s lead in the 53rd minute with a low deflected shot.
Within the blink of an eye it was 3-0, as newly elected Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year Suarez exchanged passes with Raheem Sterling before unerringly slotting the ball between Speroni’s legs.
It was his 31st goal of the campaign, equalling the record tally for a 38-game Premier League season jointly held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Delaney made the rallying cry with a deflected shot from the edge of the box, before Bolasie powered down the left and teed up Gayle to make it 3-2 two minutes later.
With Liverpool on the ropes and Selhurst Park shaking, Gayle poked home an equaliser in the 88th minute to leave Brendan Rodgers’s men on their knees.