Redemption day ends in sorrow for Liverpool's Suarez
06 May 2014, 13:26
London - Distraught Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was helped from the Selhurst Park pitch by captain Steven Gerrard on Monday with his shirt pulled over his head to hide his emotions after a day billed as redemption ended in title concession.
The celebratory day began with the Football Writers' Association following the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) in naming Suarez, often billed as the Premier League's villain, their player of the season.
The individual awards bestowed after a staggering 30 goals in 31 Premier League appearances this season had propelled Liverpool to within touching distance of a first English title in 24 years.
The volatile Uruguayan added a 31st in the 55th minute of their penultimate game of the season at Crystal Palace to put Liverpool 3-0 ahead and in prime position to heap the title race pressure back on Manchester City.
Victory would have left City needing to win their final two home games against Aston Villa and West Ham United to seal a second league title in three seasons but Liverpool made their rival's lives so much easier as they pushed for more goals.
Taking advantage of the absent defending, Palace scored three times in the final 11 minutes with Suarez laughing in disbelief as Dwight Gayle levelled the match with his second in the 88th minute to leave City's Samir Nasri gloating.
"What a game, what a league, I love Crystal Palace so much now our turn to do the job," the Frenchman posted on his Twitter feed.
As Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers conceded their bid for the title was over, Suarez did not look capable of waving the white flag let alone muttering anything after the final whistle.
Crouched on the pitch with his hands covering his eyes as the tears flowed, Gerrard pulled his team mate to his feet and drove away the prying television cameras as Suarez tried to hide his face.
The title was Liverpool's to lose last week with pundits lauding Suarez and his team for their entertaining feats before a painful 2-0 home loss to a canny Chelsea left them requiring City, boasting a superior goal difference, to slip up.
Nasri's side hung on for a 3-2 win at Liverpool's neighbours Everton on Saturday to go top of the table and turn the pressure back on Suarez and co, who cracked once more.
The Uruguayan was reported to have been feeling ill in the pre-match warmup and never looked fully fit on Monday but the 27-year-old doggedly refused to give in.
He was seen hunched over after running bursts, while he propped himself up on the advertising hoardings on more than one occasion, but still was able to exchange passes with Raheem Sterling before firing in his goal.
However, the strike was overshadowed by the tears that followed 40 minutes later from a player that has been loved and loathed in a chequered three-and-a-half season spell on Anfield.
Banned for making racist comments, suspended for biting, punished for offensive gestures and regularly accused of diving, Suarez then pushed his club management to the brink before the start of the current campaign after demanding to leave.
Arsenal's advances were rejected, while Real Madrid's never came and he committed to the job in hand in spectacular fashion to haul last year's seventh-placed finishers into title contenders.
Pessimistic Liverpool fans will say his scoring efforts have only alerted more suitors and fear his tears were of a man who had just missed out on his final chance of success with the Merseyside club.
However, Rodgers was adamant Liverpool were building something special and not about to remove a key component.
"When we've got time to sit down at the end of the season and reflect on it, we'll see that this has been an outstanding season for Liverpool Football Club," Rodgers said.
"It doesn't take away the pain now, because we've drawn a game we should have won.
"This season has given us great hope. We're trying to build something that is sustainable. We'll just keep fighting and keep working, and I think next season we'll take more strides forward and hopefully be up there challenging again."