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May 5, 2014

Rodgers: Palace draw a 'killer blow'

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers conceded the Premier League title to Manchester City after his side surrendered a three-goal lead and had to settle for a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Kolo Toure and Glen Johnson try to console a crying Luis Suarez.
Luis Suarez is distraught as the final whistle blows on an astonishing game at Selhurst Park.

While Liverpool will still have an outside chance of clinching the title on the final weekend of the season, Rodgers said he believed City would be champions of England for the second time in three years after his team collapsed late on in a dramatic game.

"I think Manchester City will go on and win their two games and they will be champions," the Anfield manager told Sky Sports. "We needed to win tonight, that was the simplicity of it, to keep the pressure on Manchester City. The important thing for us tonight was to win the game and we didn't do that, so it is a massive advantage now for Manchester City."

Rodgers told media in his post-match interviews that Liverpool players were "devastated" and "crushed" by the loss, particularly due to the fashion in which it happened.

"It's very disappointing. We can analyse it a look at it and find lots of things wrong, but our offensive game was outstanding," said Rodgers. "To get three goals against a team that is set up so well was fantastic, but it was a killer blow to only take a point."

Rodgers accepted his team's defensive flaws caught up with them in a frantic finale at Selhurst Park, but tried to put a positive gloss on a night that left some of his players in tears at the final whistle.

"For us, it has been an outstanding season up to now," he said. "For us to get to 81 points is a great achievement. We are obviously disappointed right now, but we will go again. We have a great game at Anfield [against Newcastle] now to finish the season, and we will keep looking to build and develop what we are doing.

"The dressing room is very quiet because, for 75 minutes, we put in an outstanding performance. The quality of our football, the penetration, the relentlessness of our attack was fantastic for 75 minutes. Maybe we got carried away, thinking we could get more than three goals, but the important thing was to win and we didn't do that.

"We are very disappointed how we conceded the three goals. It was real poor defending that cost us there. They showed great spirit to come back into it, but the comfort we had in the game and the quality we showed to get to 3-0 up... you have to manage the game better than that."

In the wild finish that saw Palace score three goals in the final 11 minutes of regulation time, Liverpool were not able to turn the tide in front of a raucous home crowd at Selhurst Park.

"You have to think clearly under pressure," said Rodgers. "But in that crazy spell we didn't and we know we need to be better in that area. It was about dealing with the situation. You need that calmness and control to see the game through, and we didn't manage it."

The title dream now seems to be a longshot for Liverpool. But they are mathematically alive still, needing Manchester City to drop points in one of their remaining two games.

"Of course the impossible can become possible. We've all seen what happened in Spain this weekend, when all three of the sides dropped points but City are now the clear favourites," said Rodgers. "When we reflect on it at the end of the season, we'll see it as an outstanding season. But that doesn't take away the pain now because this was a game we should have won."

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