AT SELHURST PARK
CRYSTAL PALACE 3 LIVERPOOL 1
UNDER-FIRE Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers concedes last year’s title charge will not spare him the axe should results fail to improve as the Reds’ season sank to new depths with another Selhurst Park horror show yesterday.
Rodgers’ side infamously squandered a three-goal lead in south London in May as their title aspirations suffered a hammer blow and this time around strikes from Dwight Gayle, Joe Ledley and Mile Jedinak overturned Rickie Lambert’s first Liverpool goal. The Anfield club lie 18 points behind leaders Chelsea having lost three successive Premier League games and four in total, while progress in the Champions League is under serious threat, and Rodgers accepts the club’s owners will not have infinite patience.
“I’m not arrogant enough to think I’ll be in a job through anything. Any manager will tell you that you have to win games and you have to get results,” said Rodgers. “I have a great communication line with the owners and we’re always honest and open with each other but ultimately you have to get results and have to perform. I will only ever do my best. My best has seen us develop well but now I need to fight even harder because as the manager the full responsibility falls with me.”
Liverpool opened the scoring within two minutes as Lambert – replacing groin strain victim Mario Balotelli – ghosted past former Anfield full-back Martin Kelly to collect Adam Lallana’s dinked pass and slip the ball beyond Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
Gayle proved the scourge of Liverpool in May by netting twice in the final 10 minutes and equalised when winger Yannick Bolasie drifted in from the left and unleashed a low shot which cannoned off Simon Mignolet’s right-hand post, Gayle forcing home the rebound.
Palace continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack in the second period and with 12 minutes remaining Bolasie outwitted Dejan Lovren before picking out Ledley to side-foot low past Mignolet.
Victory was sealed inside the final 10 minutes when skipper Jedinak curled a sumptuous free-kick over the Liverpool wall and beyond an outstretched Mignolet, as the Eagles moved out of the relegation zone.
“That was more like a Neil Warnock team,” said the Palace boss. “I’m pleased to get three but disappointed we didn’t score more.”