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

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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′)

Premier League Preview: Man City v. West Ham

Premier League Preview: Man City v. West Ham
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Manchester City takes the pitch at the Etihad Stadium for the first time since UEFA hammered it with a two-year Champions League ban when it hosts West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch Live at 3 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Manager Pep Guardiola has reportedly stated his commitment to the club ahead of the match, which was rescheduled from last weekend after Storm Ciara hit England.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Second-place City opens the day 25 points back of leaders Liverpool, while West Ham is one point behind 17th place.

The Irons have not won a Premier League match since New Year’s Day, David Moyes‘ first match in charge.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 


Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT —  Oleksandr Zinchenko, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy

West Ham: OUT — Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko. QUESTIONABLE — Felipe Anderson


Probable lineups

Man City: Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Walker, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, D. Silva, Aguero, Mahrez.

West Ham: Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Zabaleta, Rice, Soucek, Noble, Snodgrass, Haller, Antonio.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s David Moyes on the relegation fight: “I’m more than confident we will climb the table. I think the players here are more than capable. I think we have got a good group. I think they are all fully aware of the situation we’re in and the improvement we need to make to make sure we’re not in the bottom three, and I’m sure come the end we will do.”


Prediction

A blowout. While West Ham has the urgency to get out of the drop zone, City will be pouring its full focus into finding form for next week’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid. City, 4-1.

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”