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Match Reports

Report: West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Crystal Palace

4 March 2017

Palace’s wing duo of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend scored two wonderful solo goals to secure a 2-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion and give the Eagles' survival hopes some real momentum.

The second half strikes from the wide men, which saw their individual brilliance come to the fore, secured a well-deserved three points for Sam Allardyce's side who clinched consecutive league victories for the first time since September.

After some direct running by Zaha led to the opener on 55 minutes, a magnificent solo effort by Townsend which started 80 yards from his own goal was dispatched to seal what could be a potentially crucial win in the battle to avoid the drop, as well as a third clean sheet from the last five matches.

Two unchanged teams came into the game off the back of narrow victories, and with both managers intent on keeping things tights at the back the first half was unsurprisingly an affair that wouldn’t live long in the memory, but one that the Eagles enjoyed the better of.

Tony Pulis’ Albion came into the game boasting the division’s best record at scoring from set-pieces, however it would be Palace who would nearly net via that method on 17 minutes when Yohan Cabaye’s outswinging corner was met firmly by the head of Christian Benteke, but Chris Brunt was well-positioned to head off his goalline to safety.

The Baggies though showed that they were equally capable of producing some threatening deliveries into the area and only some last-ditch, brave defending by Mamadou Sakho and the inability of their attackers to pounce on opportunities begging to be tucked away ensured Wayne Hennessey remained untroubled for the first 45 minutes.

The only other attempt of note saw Brunt smash an ambitious side-footed volley high into the stand from the edge of the area as both teams entered the interval with their clean sheets intact, and after play resumed Nacer Chadli followed suit after he was cleverly picked out by Brunt from another corner.

But on 55 minutes, the game’s first clear-cut chance led to a deserved opener for the visitors. A raking pass by Cabaye from inside the Baggies' half found Zaha on the left flank who chested the ball into space to escape past Brunt, and just before he was closed down by Craig Dawson the winger lashed the ball into the bottom corner with unerring accuracy, leaving Ben Foster with no chance to send the hordes of travelling Eagles fans wild.

With his confidence sky-high, Zaha then embarked on a fine direct run from the halfway line that saw him ghost past a couple of defenders before Foster smothered the danger, but the rebound fell to Jason Puncheon who saw his goalbound effort deflected into the side-netting, however the following attack would have consequences as Patrick van Aanholt was stretched off with a foot injury after he shot wide.

Both teams made some tactical tweaks as the second half developed but Allardyce’s men continued to look the more dangerous, and they had a great chance to double their lead with 10 minutes remaining when a slide-rule pass by Luka Milivojevic allowed Townsend to get one-on-one with Foster but the goalkeeper got down low and made a crucial save to keep his team in the game.

But their hopes of getting anything from the game were dead with six minutes to go thanks to some individual brilliance from Townsend. The winger dispossessed Jonathan Leko 25 yards from his own goal and proceeded to shrug off the youngster, allowing him to close in goal in similar fashion to Zaha’s opener. 

However, he went one better by producing some magical step-overs to bamboozle Gareth McAuley, allowing him the yard he needed to blast the ball in via a slight deflection to seal Palace’s first Premier League win at The Hawthorns, but more crucially a massive three points.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom (Robson-Kanu 71), Livermore, Fletcher (Leko 81), Morrison, Brunt, Chadli (McClean 63), Rondon. Subs not used: Myhill, Wilson, Olsson, Yacob.

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt (Schlupp 62), Milivojevic, Cabaye (Dann 74), Puncheon, Zaha (McArthur 86), Townsend, C. Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Delaney, Sako, Campbell.

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