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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:01 12th April 2014


Once again Jason Puncheon was Palace's hero as he scored the only goal of the game to beat Aston Villa and put themselves on the brink of a second successive season in the Premier League.

The top scorer notched his sixth of the season 15 minutes from time when he netted with a shot on the turn via the woodwork to clinch the win in a game that was lacking in quality but plenty of action.

The opening half saw little goalmouth action but the Eagles suffered a blow when Kagisho Dikgacoi was forced off through injury with Marouane Chamakh coming on in his place. Indeed it took 20 minutes for the game's first chance when a tame Ciaran Clark header crept towards goal and Cameron Jerome was forced to clear off his own goalline.

Palace then had a strong penalty appeal turned down when a well-worked free-kick involving Mile Jedinak and Joe Ledley gave Yannick Bolasie a shooting chance but despite Grant Holt seemingly catching the winger's leg as he went to pull the trigger Howard Webb was unmoved.

After a sluggish start the hosts began to move through the gears and Chamakh headed wide a great cross from the right by Adrian Mariappa before the half drew to a close.

The second 45 was a much more interesting affair and after Gabriel Agbonlahor drove straight at Julian Speroni Palace nearly edged in front. Chamakh squared to Bolasie who took on the defence and saw a deflected shot force Brad Guzan to swat the ball away over his head, but it fell kindly to Jerome who saw a stabbed half-volley hit the bar from just four yards out.

Bolasie when went close again when he received the ball from Puncheon in a central position and let fly from 25 yards and beat the Guzan but the ball skidded off the turf and flashed the wrong side of the post for the Eagles, and Villa's American keeper was soon made to push away a free-kick from Puncheon.

There was confusion when Webb pointed to the spot to award Palace a penalty after a Bolasie cross was blocked by the chest of Clark but the referee thought his linesman was signalling for handball however once he realised the error the decision was correctly overturned.

However 15 minutes before the end the Eagles finally got the goal they had been threatening all second half. Once again Bolasie got past his man and swept a cross into the box which reached Puncheon, who controlled the ball and shot on the turn to find the net via the post.

The woodwork was less kind to Palace's top scorer with five minutes to go as he attempted to seal the victory by bursting down the right and cutting inside before smacking the base of the post.

But in the dying stages Speroni ensured that Palace took home all the points when he made a magnificent reaction save to deny Andreas Weimann who connected with a Grant Holt header and give the Eagles a third successive win the top flight for the first time since 1994.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Dikgacoi (Chamakh 19), Jedinak, Bolasie (Parr 83), Puncheon, Ledley, Jerome (Murray 75). Subs not used: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Ince, Gayle.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Baker, Vlaar, Clark, Lowton, Bertrand (Albrighton 82), El Ahmadi (Weimann 82), Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, Holt. Subs not used: Steer, Bennett, Sylla, Tonev, Bowery.