8:15am Tuesday 6th May 2014
By Andrew McSteen
Tony Pulis claimed it was only a matter of when, not if, Crystal Palace would equalise after they pulled it back to 3-2 in Monday’s remarkable comeback against Liverpool.
The Eagles looked dead and buried as goals from Joe Allen, Dean Sturridge and Luis Suarez put the Reds 3-0 up with nearly half the game to play.
But an unlikely and amazing point was secured thanks to a deflected 79th minute shot from Damien Delaney and a brace from substitute Dwight Gayle, who brought the scores level at 3-3 with an 88th minute equaliser.
And Pulis could sense it coming once Gayle put the home side within a goal of the floundering title hopefuls.
“When our first goal came it was pretty lucky,” admitted Pulis.
“I think Damien’s shot got a deflection and it flew in the top corner, but I walked over to assistant manager Dave Kempy and said ‘we could have a sniff here, a real sniff’.
“I actually thought we’d have a squeak.
“The support was amazing and everything took off when the second goal went in.
“I thought it was just a matter of time until we got the third.
“That support is as good as I’ve heard for a long, long time and the supporters have been wonderful.
“I am so pleased that our season at home has finished this way.”
>> See our Top 10 reasons why Crystal Palace stayed in the Premier League
Liverpool went into the game knowing realistically only victory would keep them in the title race with Manchester City and for most of the match the Merseysiders looked like running riot.
“We needed to defend well today with their strikers; they’ve got the best forwards in the league,” admitted Pulis.
“They play very open and it was always going to be more open than normal games we play.
"They created and missed chances but they scored a goal with the smallest player on the pitch from a corner.
“At half-time I just said to the team ‘let’s get through the first ten minutes of the second half’ as I honestly thought the game would open up and if it did, we’d get the opportunities and chances.
“But Liverpool then got two further goals.
"It was 3-0 and you’re staring down the barrel.
“You’re thinking with their quality, and the fact we’re trying to chase the game, they could just cut us to bits, but we’ve been different this year and played some exciting football.”
Winger Yannick Bolasie was a key figure against Liverpool but no player made more impact than Dwight Gayle, the Palace forward who has been warming the bench for most of the season who appeared as a late substitute. “
We always know we’ve got a threat with Gayley coming on,” said Pulis.
“He’s been very unlucky this year as we’ve played a certain way, which has not really suited him.
“Bringing Glenn Murray on took a lot of pressure off of him - he finds the gaps and his two goals were fabulous.
"Bolasie looked off it for a bit, but you think he’s run out of legs and the next thing he finds a balloon of air from somewhere and he’s off and running again.
“It’s been a remarkable season for the club in lots of respects, a remarkable turnaround.
“The players deserve so, so much credit for their attitude and their application and the way they’ve gone about their job, not just today, but for six, seven months.
“I enjoy the way I work and the players that have worked with me enjoy the way I work if they’re prepared to knuckle down and give everything and that’s the group this year.
“They’ve been non-stop, front foot, relentless.
“Whether we’ve won, lost or draw they’ve bounced back and they deserve a lot of credit.”
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