Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool: Reds blow three-goal lead, maybe title

5 Comments

Incredible scenes in London.

What began as a 3-0 charge to reclaim goal differential from Manchester City ended with Liverpool perhaps choking away the Premier League title with a 3-3 draw Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday.

Damien Delaney’s deflected shot in the 80th minute looked like just a bit of damage to Liverpool’s goal differential hopes, but Dwight Gayle scored a minute later to put the three points back into discussion. Gayle added another in the 88th to seal a point.

Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez scored for the Reds, who are back into first place for perhaps the last time this year. Manchester City plays Wednesday and now has a 9-goal lead in goal differential with a match-in-hand. Liverpool finishes the year against Newcastle on Championship Sunday.

Palace, once left for dead, can now remarkably finish no worse than 11th place.

source: APLiverpool players were left to choke back tears. Suarez collapsed, covering his eyes with his jersey and heaving forth sobs. An emotional Gerrard had to lead him off.

Brendan Rodgers’ pre-match quotes implied that even Liverpool’s fiery attacking would be ratcheted up a notch as the Reds attempted to chase down Manchester City’s goal differential, and a boisterous Selhurst Park added to the atmosphere. Both Crystal Palace and Liverpool came hard charging out of the gates in an attempt to match the crowd’s energy.

As the game hit 10 minutes, however, Tony Pulis’ Eagles began to sink into familiar defense-first form. Liverpool’s Glen Johnson made a darting run to latch onto a free kick, heading over on a point blank chance in the 15th minute in just once instance of the Reds’ desire to beat the back line.

Daniel Sturridge provided plenty of danger early, but seemed intent on taking an extra touch in several situations where a first touch strike looked deadly.

Welsh midfielder Joe Allen got the match’s first goal — and his first in 50 games with Liverpool — when he lost Joe Ledley on a Steven Gerrard corner kick and received a free header from the back post. He made no doubt about it, and it was 1-0 in the 18th minute.

Luis Suarez tried a daring, curling free kick just inside of a half-hour but missed the upper right corner by a yard as the ball dipped high and wide of the frame.

Palace’s Jason Puncheon put a scare into Liverpool in the 33rd minute when his drive deflected off Sakho, forcing Simon Mignolet to push the ball out for a corner (which came to nothing).

And Mile Jedinak continued his sterling season with a strong rip on goal that Mignolet had to tip over the bar. The ensuing corner was punched free by Mignolet. Jedinak may be the most overlooked, under-appreciated midfielder in the Premier League.

Liverpool attacked hard at the break. Speroni was forced to make a big save in the 50th minute, but Suarez sent an easy-enough rebound well over the frame.

Sturridge found the second goal in the 54th minute when he put a deflected shot past Speroni. He briefly celebrated before realizing how many goals Liverpool wanted to score, and pushing his teammates back for the kickoff.

And just one minute later, it was the other half of SAS who buried a goal, slotting home with his left foot just outside of the six-yard box. It was 3-0, goal differential was down to six and Liverpool had its 99th goal of the season.

Glen Johnson dribbled to the middle of the field and struck a hard ball toward goal that Speroni pushed over in the 67th minute.

But Delaney’s shot in the 79th minute took a left turn off Johnson and beat Mignolet to dent Liverpool’s hopes of catching City’s differential. And then Gayle collected a Yannick Bolasie pass in the 18 and scored just two minutes later.

From then on, Liverpool were either gassed, confounded or both Crystal Palace carried the play and the Reds were just holding on for the three points.

They couldn’t. Gayle ran down the middle of the pitch to hammer home and equalizer. Incredible! How??!

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Dikgacoi (Ince, 85′), Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie, Puncheon (Gayle, 65′), Chamakh (Murray, 71′).

Goals: Delaney (79′), Gayle (81′, 88′)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Skrtel, Sakho, Gerrard, Allen, Lucas, Sterling (Coutinho, 78′), Sturridge (Moses, 86′), Suarez

Goals: Allen (18′), Sturridge (54′), Suarez (55′)

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

Pete Christopher/The Oregonian via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images
Leave a comment

They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

Photo by Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.