It started with an own goal, granted but it ended with the redemption of Christian Benteke as Crystal Palace bagged a superb victory over West Bromwich Albion winning 5-1.
Crystal Palace have been hit and miss this season, for every win over Manchester United at Old Trafford there has been defeats against Newcastle and Burnley and the result has seen Roy Hodgson’s team already become a mid table team. Too good to get involved in a relegation dog fight but too inconsistent to push for Europe. At the weekend there was evidence for the former.
The own goal to open the scoring was like a stake in the heart for Slaven Bilic’s team who unlike Palace are going to face a fight for survival. Coming into this game West Brom had lost 60% of their games, but had given up wins for draws, with just one victory so far this season which came against Sheffield United the one team even worse than the Baggies.
But the home side struck back quick through a neat shot by Conor Gallagher who was incidentally set up by Darnell Furlong who had scored the own goal moments before, the first redemption of the match. But much credit would also have to go to Semi Ajayi whose world class pass to open up Palace set up the goal.
It was a first half that West Brom played well in, four shots on target to Palace’s one, and the half finished 1-1. But there would still be problems for West Brom after Matheus Pereira was sent off. He fell in a clash and on first look it looked like he caught his studs on Patrick van Aanholt. It seemed harmless enough but perhaps VAR was right to call back the incident. Pereira had his eyes locked on the Palace player and was sent off. Without that there could have been much optimism for Bilic, but he would never have foreseen for what was to come. It would be a painful 45 minutes that would see a further 4 goals with 10 men.
The red card had hampered the home side and took the wind out of them, and it was something Palace could feel as the 2nd half kicked off. Soon it would be 2-1 to Palace after a beautiful strike from Wilfried Zaha who is living up to his £80 million price tag from last summer, when there were reports he would leave the club. Zaha would go on to score again.
But perhaps it was a day for Christian Benteke to remember, his goals were not memorable but they were important for a player who has come under a lot of pressure for not producing the goods at Palace, well now he scored 2 goals in one game and his confidence looked reinstalled. It was telling how West Brom had given up, after having their five shots on target in the first period they managed none in the second half to Palace’s five.
Next week it is back to the hard grind for Palace who face league leaders Tottenham, at least they are at home but the Eagles will have to bear in mind that Jose Mourinho’s team have lost just once this season.
For West Brom they are in 19th with six points. Fulham give them hope and it means a win could see Bilic’s team escape the bottom three next weekend. The problem is they face a tricky tie away to Newcastle. You sense that Bilic’s time is running out though and he will have to start picking up the points.
As for Roy Hodgson,the veteran manager is having a very solid season and maybe the form of Benteke and Zaha will make it a memorable one.
Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com