Bakary Sako grabbed the only goal of the game to clinch another massive three points for the Eagles in their battle against the drop against Burnley at Selhurst Park.
The rejuvenated winger – playing up front once again – smacked home his sixth of the campaign in the first half to stretch Roy Hodgson’s team fine run to one defeat in their last 12 league outings, and that proved to be enough to see off the visitors and move Palace to within touching distance of the top half of the table.
The Eagles dominated the opening 45 minutes with Sako and Christian Benteke causing plenty of problems up front and the Malian could have been awarded an early penalty after he was brought down by a sliding challenge by James Tarkowski, but on 21 minutes he got himself on the scoresheet for the second time in a week.
After the ball bounced loosely in the Burnley half, Benteke hooked it towards the left flank for his strike partner, who picked up possession and charged goalwards. After tormenting Phil Bardsley to edge into the area, he characteristically thumped a shot goalwards with his hammer of a left foot, and it proved too powerful for Nick Pope whose outstretched foot couldn’t prevent it crashing into the net.
Playing with confidence, Palace came so close to adding a second moments later when Wilfried Zaha chased down a lost cause and managed to nick in ahead of Pope and knock the ball invitingly in front of an open goal, leading to a footrace between James McArthur and Ben Mee which the defender just about managed to win, and then on 27 minutes Benteke rippled the top of the net after a majestic leap to meet a Luka Milivojevic corner.
The visitors threatened very little in the first half but as it edged towards the final five minutes Sam Vokes headed well over before Wayne Hennessey was called into significant action when he had to tip over a dipping effort by Ashley Barnes from the edge of the box after Tarkowski had nodded a free-kick back into his path.
However it was Hodgson’s team who had two massive chances before the break to double their lead, but both were squandered. Firstly, some fine work by Martin Kelly led to Benteke nearly diverting home a wayward Patrick van Aanholt shot but Pope caught it in mid-air, and then a minute later Timothy Fosu-Mensah stood a fantastic cross towards the back post for Sako who watched it onto his boot, but his vicious volley whistled just past the opposite upright.
After the restart Barnes and Sako saw headers that barely troubled the goalkeepers but Sam Vokes went closer when Bardsley’s cross to the front post was met by the Welshman but driven into the side-netting, and as the second half progressed Sean Dyche’s team began to cause the Eagles more problems as they sought an equaliser, and nerves began to creep in around Selhurst Park.
However the second half wasn’t as action-packed as the first and chances were at a premium, however the remained on a knife-edge and with 83 minutes a long ball over the top released Barnes who went one-on-one with Hennessey but the Palace keeper did well to block the attempt and keep his team ahead at a crucial stage.
The points could have been wrapped up in the final minute when Benteke beat Mee to a header and charged forward, but he hesitated a moment too long to get his shot away and slammed it into the side-netting, but that miss wouldn’t prove costly as Palace returned to winning ways in SE25.
Palace: Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Kelly, Van Aanholt, Zaha, Milivojevic, Riedewald, McArthur, Sako, Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Souare, Wan-Bissaka, Delaney, Cabaye, Lee, Kaikai.
Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Gudmundsson (Wells 86), Cork, Defour, Barnes, Hendrick (Nkoudou 64), Vokes. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Lowton, Long, Westwood, Walters.