Rodgers bemoans reckless Reds
Published 06/05/2014 | 06:17
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accused his side of adopting a 'Roy of the Rovers' approach to their game at Crystal Palace and believes hopes of the Barclays Premier League title have been extinguished.
The Reds looked to have dealt with the pressure of title rivals Manchester City winning on Sunday as they eased into a 3-0 lead, playing the sort of fast-paced football that has earned them so many plaudits this season - but they conceded three late goals to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park.
Joe Allen scored his first league goal for the Reds before Daniel Sturridge and double player of the year Luis Suarez scored in two second-half minutes to put the visitors in a seemingly unassailable position.
Those three goals took Liverpool's tally to the season to 99, usually more than enough to lock out top spot and the championship.
But their defence has been asked a number of questions over the course of the campaign and it was once again left wanting as Palace fought back to seal a memorable draw and swing the title momentum firmly back towards the Etihad Stadium.
Damien Delaney scored his first goal of the season to mount the comeback before substitute Dwight Gayle struck twice as Tony Pulis' side drew level in just nine minutes.
The capitulation left both Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and top goalscorer Suarez in tears at the full-time whistle and Rodgers admits it now looks as though their strongest title tilt in 24 years appears to be over.
"Yes, for me it is," he said.
"We needed to win tonight to keep the pressure on. I think City will go on and win their two games now.
"They will be champions. But for us it's been an outstanding achievement until now. We'll keep looking to build."
The draw does move Liverpool a point clear at the top of the table but City have a game in hand and Rodgers was left rueing more poor defending.
"It is hugely disappointing," he said.
"For 78 minutes we were outstanding, done everything we'd wanted to do, looked solid defensively and didn't have many scares, had control of the ball and had three goals.
"But we got carried away, thought we could have more, and lost our defensive structure. To have conceded three was disappointing given the work we'd put in to go 3-0 up. It is thinking clearly under pressure that is important."
Even a win would have not been enough if City go on to win their remaining two games as their superior goal difference would have seen them collect their second title in three years.
Rodgers refuted suggestions that his side were sent out to score as many goals as possible and was critical of their approach in the second half.
"We said at half-time the most important thing was to win the game," he added.
"We started well, then lost our shape a bit in the first half because of that; we thought we could play 'Roy of the Rovers' football and make the goal difference up.
"But tonight was about winning the game. When we had the structure and discipline to our game, we scored goals and created chances.
"But we didn't manage the game. At 3-0 we gave them a sniff, and they have some good players who can punish you."
Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis felt Delaney's effort gave his side an outside chance of getting something out of the game after looking like they could have been on the end of a big defeat.
"I said the game would open up in the second half, and we'd have a chance," he said.
"Then they get the two and, at 3-0, you're staring down the barrel. When we got the first goal, I thought we'd have a squeak.
"Then everything took off, it was amazing. When the second goal went in, it was just a matter of time until we got the third."
Pulis has been tipped for the manager of the year award by saving a Palace side who appeared cut adrift when he arrived in November.
The Welshman, who also said Liverpool are not out of the title race yet, continues his proud tradition of never being relegated as a manager but was quick to praise everyone at the club.
"It has been a remarkable season for the club," he said. "We'll finish 11th in the Premier League when (we) were six or seven off safety after 11 games.
"It has been a remarkable turnaround. The players deserve so much credit for their attitude and commitment, for six or seven months."