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Match Reports

Report: Crystal Palace 2-0 Blackpool

23 August 2016

Christian Benteke made his Crystal Palace debut as an own goal and a Connor Wickham strike helped the Eagles into round three of the EFL Cup at the expense of Blackpool.

The club record signing looked sharp on his first outing in red and blue and came close on a few occasions to marking his debut by getting on the scoresheet, but it was a Scott Dann blast that hit Clark Robertson that broke the deadlock on 25 minutes, before Wickham netted 90 seconds after replacing Benteke as a half-time substitute.

All eyes were on Benteke and he gave the Palace fans the first glimpse of why he commanded such a large transfer fee just a minute into the tie when he towered above the Blackpool defence to head a Martin Kelly cross goalwards but he could only guide it straight at Sam Slocombe.

Playing against his former club, Jason Puncheon was next to worry the Seasiders goalkeeper and he fizzed a hard blast just wide on 11 minutes, but midway through the first half the dominant hosts got themselves in front. Andros Townsend jinked around on the left flank before picking out an unmarked Scott Dann at the back post, and his half volley across the face of goal struck Clark Robertson and diverted the ball post Slocombe.

However they almost squandered it a couple of minutes later when Armand Gnanduillet forced his way into the area and squeezed the ball across the face of goal where Jim McAlister was waiting to tuck it in, but James McArthur was well-positioned to scramble the ball off his goalline and protect the advantage.

Needing a second to calm the nerves, Palace attacked again through Townsend and he played another pin-point pass into the feet of McArthur inside the area, but the Scot couldn’t quite be a hero at both ends as he forced Slocombe into a good stop, with Benteke’s eyes lighting up at the chance of a debut goal on the rebound but he rolled the ball into the side netting.

Two minutes before the break he then rippled it again when he was found by a lovely Yohan Cabaye ball but he scuffed it wide as an encouraging first 45 minutes in an Eagles shirt came to an end as he was replaced by Connor Wickham at the break.

And just 90 seconds after the restart he got himself on the scoresheet. Puncheon stole the ball off Robertson on the right and placed a low cross into the front post where Wickham was waiting to lash it past Slocombe and score his first competitive goal at Selhurst Park.

As well as Benteke and James Tomkins, Steve Mandanda was also making his first start for the Eagles but it was a fairly quiet evening for the Frenchman who saved comfortably from Brad Potts in the first half, and then caught a tame Gnanduillet header on 58 minutes as the Seasiders tried to keep their cup dream alive.

But Alan Pardew’s men kept up the pressure and Slocombe did well to push away a Townsend free-kick on 70 minutes as he went searching for his first Eagles goal and Puncheon attempted to net a spectacular strike from 30 yards but watched it sail well over the bar.

The chances kept coming for Palace and Wilfried Zaha saw a blast blocked by the Blackpool keeper before Townsend saw a low curler from the edge of the box whistle past the far post, and the winger nearly put the cherry on top of the cake for his side when he went fractions away from getting on the scoresheet but saw his drive thud off the crossbar in the dying stages.

Palace: Mandanda, Kelly, Tomkins, Dann, Souare, Puncheon, Cabaye (Zaha 72), McArthur (Lee 60), Townsend, Mutch, Benteke (Wickham 45). Subs not used: Speroni, Fryers, Boateng, Anderson.

Blackpool: Slocombe, Mellor, Aimson, Aldred, Robertson, Potts (Yeates 60), McAlister (Herron 60), Daniel, Nolan, Caine, Gnanduillet (Osayi-Samuel 68). Subs not used: Letheren, Taylor, Cameron, Cullen.

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