Paper planes were scattered around the fringes of Selhurst Park throughout the most remarkable Premier League match in recent memory, their origins a mystery, all of them inevitably meeting the South London ground. Liverpool's fate did not digress from that of the colorful construction paper flyers, as they threw away a 3-0 lead to nosedive out of the title race. At the final whistle, the magnitude of the collapse prompted uncontrollable tears from Luis Suarez and caused other Liverpool players to collapse onto the pitch in agony. This is becoming a cruel, nightmarish end to a brilliant season.
Liverpool owned most of the match, creating problems from the onset through well orchestrated counter attacks and Glen Johnson's wing play. 18 minutes into the game, Joe Allen knocked a wide open header past Julian Speroni for his first goal with the club, giving Liverpool a 1-0 advantage. The away fans began chanting "attack," encouraging Liverpool to push for more. Besides a wonderful 35th minute save from Simon Mignolet on a Mile Jedinak longshot against the run of play, Liverpool successfully adhered to the traveling section's wishes, owning the vast majority of possession and putting the Palace box under siege.
In the 51st minute, Daniel Sturridge unleashed a curling effort that Speroni tipped onto the post and into the path of Luis Suarez, who fired the rebound over an empty net. The miss was disappointing but soon forgotten, with Liverpool's lead doubled two minutes later when Sturridge cut inside and found the back of the net via a deflection. Liverpool sprinted the ball back to midfield, believing that an incredible goal differential turnaround remained possible. Another two minutes and Liverpool's hopes intensified as Suarez put the Reds up 3-0, slipping his shot in on a tight angle after a brilliant pass from Raheem Sterling. The goal drew him level with the Premier League single season scoring record.
With Palace fans silenced and Liverpool rampant, there wasn't an inkling in anyone's mind that a collapse was imminent. There was nothing to signify any result other than an easy Liverpool romping, even after the Reds conceded a goal off the side of Glen Johnson who had failed to close down Damien Delaney's speculative effort. We're used to the customary consolation goal concession, and nothing appeared out of the ordinary at 3-1.
Then Yannick Bolasie skipped past Johnson at midfield, sprinted down the wing, and centered to an uncovered Gayle for Palace's second. 3-2, Selhurst Park bubbling with newfound belief, Liverpool reeling. Bolasie continued to cause Johnson problems as Liverpool scrambled to regain their balance, and the third strike seemed forthcoming. It was Gayle once again to finish off the remarkable comeback, running into inexplicably open space to pounce on a long ball flick-on and shoot past Mignolet's helpless reach. And with that, Liverpool's 3-0 lead was gone and we were left stunned, and when the shock wore off, devastated.
So we've crapped away our best chance at the Premier League title in ages, and did so in heartbreaking fashion. Maybe Villa or West Ham will beat Manchester City, but I wouldn't count on it. As I said above, this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons I've ever witnessed across any sport I follow, and it's a shame that things are ending this way. Another day we can talk about how great it is that we'll finish top three, but for now everything just feels like shit.