Palace ended their Scandinavian pre-season trip in style, thrashing Roy Hodgson’s former club Halmstads BK 6-1 on a blisteringly hot evening in Sweden. Van Aanholt was the main protagonist, with a deadly brace in the space of two minutes towards the back end of the first half, sandwiched either side of goals from Christian Benteke and Sullay Kaikai. James McArthur and Jason Puncheon netted in the second half, drawing the Eagles’ overseas training camp to a close.
Roy Hodgson made seven changes from Thursday night, with Christian Benteke joining Alexander Sørloth up front at the Örjans Vall stadium, and Wayne Hennessey making his first appearance of the trip.
Only Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Jairo Riedewald, Jeffrey Schlupp and Sørloth retained their starting place from the 2-2 draw with Hensingør.
Wilfried Zaha travelled back to south London for a family matter at home, and therefore was not involved.
Prior to kick-off, Roy Hodgson was inducted into the Halmstad Hall of Fame, and the Palace manager gave a speech of thanks in fluent Swedish immediately to another standing ovation here in Sweden – a crowd that included many of his former players and the national coach Janne Andersson.
Both sides started patiently in the opening ten minutes, but it was Palace who broke the deadlock in the 12th minute, when birthday boy Andros Townsend won the ball and laid a pinpoint pass to Christian Benteke on the edge of the box who finished brilliantly passed the goalkeeper’s outstretched right paw.
But the visitors immediately struck back, after a wonderful cross from Gudmundsson found Pontus Silver in the middle of the box who rifled the ball past Hennessey and in off the bar.
But there was soon cause for greater concern for the tourists, when Benteke received a knock to his foot, and was replaced by Sullay Kaikai.
Andros Townsend began to find space on the right flank, and created headaches for the back four. First, he was felled on the edge of the box, but Van Aanholt shot over from the free-kick, then he found a yard of space and sweetly struck the ball from 30 yards, but it sailed past the keepers’ right hand post.
Palace then went into over-drive as the temperature climbed to 28 degrees, scoring three goals in five minutes. The first came from a neat one-two between Sørloth and Van Aanholt down the left with the Dutchman creating enough space to drive the ball from the very corner of the box with his left foot into the opposite corner.
Almost straight from the kick-off, Palace threatened down the left once more with Van Aanholt whipping a ball into Sørloth whose header was foiled by the central defender, but the hosts’ right back fluffed his lines and Van Aanholt quickly pounced, stealing the ball and striking into the same corner as he did two minutes earlier.
Moments later, Sakho played a ball to Sørloth who neatly laid off to Sullay Kaikai who sidestepped two oncoming defenders and smoked a piledriver of a strike from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner, sending the visitors 4-1 up at the break.
Halmstads BK began well, and a corner from the left met Larsson’s head, destined for the far corner of Hennessey’s goal – but it was that man Van Aanholt who headed off the line and away for another corner.
On the hour mark, Townsend sprinted down the wing before cutting the ball inside to Sørloth, who tidily laid the ball off to James McArthur, and the Scotsman beautifully curled one into the top corner with his left foot.
Pape Souare, Joel Ward and Jason Puncheon came on for Jeffrey Schlupp, Van Aanholt and Wan-Bissaka with 25 left to play. Puncheon’s impact was immediate, as a well flighted cross from Townsend found the Croydon man on the penalty spot, who slotted the ball past the keeper with ease.
Hodgson made four further substitutions on the 70th minute mark with Townsend, McArthur, Tomkins, Sakho being replaced by Jach, Williams, Lokilo, and Kelly. But the game soon petered out, but Hodgson will be delighted with the squad's time in his beloved Sweden.
Highlights and post-match reaction to follow on Palace TV soon.