Liverpool’s season went from bad to worse as they let an early lead slip to lose 3-1 at struggling Crystal Palace yesterday.
Scorers: Crystal Palace - Gayle (17), Ledley (78), Jedinak (81); Liverpool - Lambert (2)
Only twice before have the Reds amassed fewer points at this stage of a Premier League season, but last year’s runners-up are failing to hit the heady heights that saw them push Manchester City all the way. They remain 18 points behind leaders Chelsea in 12th place and have now lost their last four games in all competitions.
Rickie Lambert hit his first goal for Liverpool inside two minutes but that was as good as it got for the visitors as Dwight Gayle levelled before the break.
Both sides were equally slow out of the blocks in the second half but it was Palace who shone, with Joe Ledley and Mile Jedinak scoring three minutes apart to seal the contest.
Palace scored three times in the last 11 minutes here last season to record a memorable 3-3 draw and all-but end Liverpool’s title hopes to leave Luis Suarez in tears. That fixture came on the back of a home defeat to Chelsea and, just like the back-end of last campaign, Brendan Rodgers’ side could not respond with a win in south London. Rodgers admitted his side are lacking in confidence. “It was bitterly disappointing,” he said of the performance.
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“You’ve seen a team low on confidence today. Not quite together as a team. We need to find a solution very quickly because it was very disappointing.
“I put the team out there, the best team to win us the game. We made a good start. You could see our passing was a wee bit tentative and then we make mistakes. Mistakes you wouldn’t expect to see at a team that’s supposed to be challenging.
“We have to work harder but we go away bitterly disappointed with the result. At this moment, we’re just not good enough.”
Neil Warnock was delighted with a first win since September as Palace climb to 15th in the table. “I think we’d have done that to most teams today,” he said. “That’s just this league in general. If you take anyone lightly, you can get turned over.
“We can cause any team in the league problems if we play. We need to sort out clean sheets. Julian [Speroni] didn’t have too much to do today but we conceded early doors again. One long ball and we ball-watched and were punished. I’d love to get some clean sheets on board.”
Liverpool flew out of the blocks at a wet Selhurst Park as Lambert collected Adam Lallana’s pass and slotted home past Speroni with aplomb to finally break his Liverpool duck with just 90 seconds on the clock.
But Gayle was on hand to equalise for the Eagles 15 minutes later. Yannick Bolasie picked the ball up and was allowed to canter into the Liverpool half unchallenged before his fierce drive came off the post and into the path of Gayle, whose shot was too strong for Simon Mignolet.
Bolasie was the man causing all of the problems for Liverpool, who were caught on the counter-attack by the blistering pace of the Congo international before he exchanged passes with Jason Puncheon and saw his shot blocked behind by Javier Manquillo. The Spanish defender had no answer to Bolasie moments later but this time the Palace winger could only hammer his shot wide as the first half ended with the sides level.
There were no clear chances in the early stages of the second half with neither side really creating enough in the final third.
Rodgers reacted to his side’s lack of cutting edge by introducing Fabio Borini and Emre Can in place of Lallana and Joe Allen.
But it was the hosts who were celebrating the lead soon after and Bolasie was once again at the centre of the move as he flicked the ball over Dejan Lovren’s head and, having left the Croatian sprawled, crossed for Ledley to calmly finish and turn the game on its head.
The points were secured shortly afterwards as Martin Skrtel felled Gayle 30 yards from goal and Eagles skipper Jedinak curled in a beautiful free-kick.
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