By 90Min
August 20, 2018

Hopes were high. Atmospherically high. A wave of unprecedented excitement and expectation swept over a Liverpool fanbase yet to see their side win England's top flight since the beginning of the Premier League era.

Two games left. Eighty-one points on the board. Brendan Rodgers' side had to beat Crystal Palace and Newcastle by significant margins in order to be certain of a maiden Premier League title success, unless Manchester City slipped up.

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Red smoke adorned the streets of south London as Liverpudlians invaded Selhurst Park, fiercely motivated by the potentiality of the Premier League trophy being held aloft by their captain Steven Gerrard for the first time ever. 

In the match's infancy, it was strikingly evident which side out of the two had something to play for. Liverpool flew out of the starting blocks, building attack after attack against a Crystal Palace side seemingly looking to come out of the game with little more than their reputation intact.

For all their relentless attacking play, Liverpool had just one goal to take into the Selhurst Park dressing room at the interval, needing eight more to even draw level with Manchester City's vastly superior goal difference.


A constant theme of their overachieving season, the Reds were being made to compensate for their defensive neglect by relying on their scintillating attack. However, it all looked to be falling in the Merseysiders' favour after the break. 

Two goals in two minutes from Liverpool's talismanic forwards Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez drew chants of 'attack, attack, attack' from a jubilant away end. 

Further cries of 'we're gonna win the league' attempted to overpower the usually buoyant home support.

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In the south Londoners' case, which nobody seemed to consider as title talk dominated the occasion, they had just survived a Premier League season for the first time in their history. 

The pressure on those players in red and blue was non existent. Instead, a party atmosphere was being emitted from the home terraces, with the desire to motivate the players not on the agenda.

Instead, the Palace fans simply wanted to use the game to express their pride and gratitude towards their idols; however, their raucous noise could only go on for so long before it trickled down onto a confetti-laden Selhurst Park pitch and influenced the players. Seventy-eight minutes to be exact.

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Having been mere spectators of Raheem Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge's attacking talents for over three quarters of the match, Crystal Palace's laboured side suddenly burst into life as Liverpool's desperation for more goals provided the opposite effect. 

A speculative punt from Damien Delaney somehow found Simon Mignolet's top left corner via Glen Johnson's hip and, with that, roughly 2,000 Liverpudlians fell silent. 

From then on, the game turned completely on its head in almost unprecedented circumstances. The home support, the Holmesdale Stand in particular, smelt blood, as did the 11 in red and blue on the pitch. 

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Almost instantaneously after Delaney's strike, Rodgers' side became completely lost, caught between whether to carry on with their siege of Julian Speroni's goal or escape the cauldron of noise that was Selhurst Park with their two goal difference intact. 

Strangely, but somewhat understandably, Liverpool desperately continued their all or nothing attacking play as they saw their title aspirations slowly fade. What happened next would see the Reds get entirely what they deserved for their naive approach.

Yannick Bolasie, a man seemingly possessed by the occasion, produced the performance of his life in a hectic 11 minute spell which saw him run the length of the pitch to set up a second goal courtesy of Dwight Gayle just three minutes after Delaney's strike. 

As the clock ticked, Liverpool's three goal lead was down to just one, with their hopes of earning maximum points from the game going from a near certainty to a desperate situation. 

On 88 minutes, disaster struck. A Palace side spurred on by the chance to wreck a title challenge in famous fashion went forward once again as Liverpool were caught still deciding whether to stick or twist. 


A direct ball up to Glenn Murray from Scott Dann was gloriously chested into the path of Gayle to put him in on goal. It was in this moment that the away support's collective hearts could almost be heard snapping in two, as Palace's number 16 laced the ball into the back of the net. 

Just under a decade earlier, Liverpool had been the beneficiares of an unlikely three goal lead being overturned in dramatic fashion in Istanbul. 

Contrastingly, however, on this dusky spring evening in south London, they were the victims, in a game now infamously known as 'Crystanbul'. 

The aftermath of the match, in Liverpool's case, couldn't have been more emblematic of a side languishing in absolute devastation. 

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At no single point after the final whistle would you think the players before you were sat a point clear at the top of the league with one game to go; they were out on their feet after a physically and emotionally draining affair. 

Suarez sunk to his knees in tears before being lifted up by an equally broken Gerrard intent on swatting away nearby TV cameras, and pulled his shirt over his head in a poor attempt to hide his heartbreak. 

Just over four years on from that fateful day, on which Gayle put his name on the footballing map whilst the Eagles became Liverpool's bogey team, the Reds are back in south London with a vengeance. 


Jurgen Klopp's hopes for the Premier League title are just as strong as Rodgers' were at the start of his mental journey on the Selhurst Park touchline all those years ago. This time, however, the German will be hoping his side attack ferociously for the full 90 minutes.

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