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Remembering 'The Miracle of Crystanbul' Through the Eyes of a Palace Fan

Three years ago Liverpool were in the hunt for the Premier League title and travelled to Crystal Palace seeking a crucial win. When they raced into a 3-0 lead they must have felt the points were secure, but the Eagles had other ideas.

by Tom Sabokbar
05 May 2017, 2:40pm

I sometimes wonder if I will ever witness anything as glorious as Crystanbul. While other fans view Steven Gerrard's fateful slip against Chelsea as the moment that cost Liverpool the 2013-14 title, Palace supporters like myself remember it differently.

In the weeks building up to our game against Brendan Rodgers' side, my uncle – a lifelong Liverpool supporter – asked if he could come along with me so as to "experience Selhurst Park's famous atmosphere." Of course, I knew that this was just a compliment intended to secure him a ticket. I didn't mind though as we were already safe, and I did keep inviting him after a couple of pints, when I'd compare our atmosphere to the Yellow Wall of Dortmund or assure him that Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce had nothing on Palace vs Brighton.

The lads! The bloody Palace lads! // PA Images

Before the game I walked up the Holmesdale Road with my uncle and brother, discussing the potential outcome. His answer was something along the lines of 'I think we'll win but it'll be close', which I thought was very diplomatic of him considering that they did need quite a few goals to keep the pressure on City and maintain their title push. The atmosphere in the ground prior to kick-off was considerably louder than my uncle had expected – the Holmesdale Fanatics were in full voice and everyone was praising the amazing job that Tony Pulis had done to keep us up. This was only a taste of what was to come.

In the 17th minute, Gerrard swung in a corner near to where we were sitting, and it was finished like a 30-a-season striker by none other than Joe Allen. Liverpool went on to dominate and scored two more goals through Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. Palace were 3-0 down after 54 minutes. My uncle gently tapped me on the knee in a silenced Holmesdale and whispered "game over". I turned and smiled as if to say, 'It's okay, we'll beat you here next season when you're challenging for a Europa League place with us.'

Then, something happened that I hadn't experienced at a football match before: after the third goal went in, the Liverpool fans began shouting for more. They started to believe that they could score the eight or nine goals that they needed to push City to the edge. Liverpool believed they could come back from the dead just as they had against AC Milan during the 2005 Champions League Final in Istanbul.

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The onslaught appeared to have subsided and our fans began to chant about staying up and Liverpool not winning anything that season. I was satisfied that the other team had beaten us and wasn't too annoyed that it was going to take the title race down to the wire. They weren't going to beat us 8-0 and that was good enough for me.

What followed Damian Delaney's deflected 78th minute goal to make it 3-1 will stay with me until my dying day. Yannick Bolasie seemed to find a gear that we'd never seen from him before. He was running up and down the wing like a man possessed and went on to set up Dwight Gayle (a Palace fans' favourite to this day) to make it 3-2. The energy when the second goal went in on the 80th minute was electric – you could just feel that we were going to do it. At this point, I had completely stopped engaging with my uncle and was solely focused on what was going on below me.

If I am totally honest, I don't remember the third goal. I remember where I ended up after we scored, though: about four rows down and in the arms of a man I'd not previously made the acquaintance of. I have since watched that goal back – over and over, in fact – and still get goosebumps.

Luis Suarez seemed to take the defeat worse than most // PA Images

After the game had finished, Luis Suarez was on the big screen in tears. It was something that I should have enjoyed, but in truth I felt for him. Here was a man who had taken Liverpool from top-four contenders to champions elect. I hugged my uncle and apologised for celebrating like England had won the World Cup. He admitted that he hadn't seen an atmosphere like it but that, unlike me, he wouldn't be coming back to Selhurst Park.

@tomsabokbar