Yellow proved to be lucky for Crystal Palace once again as Wilfried Zaha’s superb first half strike sealed their second victory of the Premier League campaign at the expense of Huddersfield Town.
The Eagles debuted their new third kit at the John Smith’s Stadium, stirring flashbacks of other fine victories on the travels from yesteryear clad in the colour, and while the majority of this game might not live long in the memory, Zaha’s goal certainly will.
He added another addition to his ever-increasing highlight reel of Palace strikes in the 37th minute which ultimately settled the contest, but it took a dogged display from Roy Hodgson’s team to seal a first three-point haul since the opening day, despite finding their goal under siege at times.
Despite being winless in their previous nine games, the hosts were lively in the opening 15 minutes and nearly found a way in front when Aaron Mooy switched the play to Chris Lowe allowing for the left-back to cross, and Steve Mounie met the delivery but rippled the top of the net with his header.
But the free-flowing action soon gave way to a slugfest as some heavy challenges by both teams saw James McArthur, Mathias Jorgensen and Zaha all go into Lee Mason’s book, riling up an already boisterous home crowd who heaped pressure on the official at every attempt.
However, a deteriorating encounter was lit up on 38 minutes with a piece of brilliance by Zaha. Terriers supporters’ boos were ringing in his ears when he picked the ball up from Jordan Ayew 40 yards from goal, but he embarked on a fine run down the left that saw him tease past Florent Hadergjonaj, squeeze into the box between the left-back and Elias Kachunga, and despite a tight angle whip the ball past Jonas Lossl to silence the natives.
Fired up, Zaha almost grabbed a second when he raced onto a ball over the top to create a sight of goal for himself but this time Lossl was able to smother his low attempt. Going into the break, however, it was his brilliance that gave Palace the edge.
Having been a spectator for virtually all of the first half, Wayne Hennessey suddenly became the busier of the two goalkeepers as Huddersfield built up a head of steam 15 minutes after the restart.
He used his gloves for the first time moments after the kick-off when an offside Kachunga headed goalwards, and then Huddersfield had the ball in the net when Philip Billing lashed home following corner however Mason had rightly whistled for a foul on Mamadou Sakho.
Philip Billing then attempted to find the scoresheet in successive games but fired rashly over from the edge of the area. The woodwork was then struck when Mooy connected sweetly with a volley from 20 yards which clattered off the base of the upright, stayed in play and was recycled for Hadergjonaj to strike goalwards from close range, however Hennessey managed to push the effort away.
Incidents continued to come thick and fast, but having weathered the storm Palace found themselves the more dangerous side, and Cheikhou Kouyate nearly marked his first league start with a goal when he bundled the ball into the net following a corner, but saw it ruled out for a foul on Lossl in the build-up, which looked to be a soft decision.
Then with 20 minutes remaining a swift counter-attack saw Zaha slip in McArthur, but the Scotsman fired his first-time shot over after a lung-busting 80-yard sprint.
As the seconds slipped by David Wagner’s team piled on the pressure but simply couldn’t hit the target.
Then with seconds remaining, there was one more nail-biting moment for the hordes of travelling fans to endure when Mooy saw a scuffed volley cleared to Billing.
The midfielder thumped a shot goalwards, saw it clatter off McArthur and drop towards the target, but thankfully it zipped wide of the post to ensure that the Eagles claimed their third-straight win over Huddersfield for the first time in their history.
Huddersfield: Lossl, Haderjonaj, Jorgensen (Depoitre 78), Schindler, Kongolo, Lowe, Kachunga (Diakhaby 68), Mooy, Billing, Van la Parra (Mbenza 78), Mounie.
Subs not used: Hamer, Smith, Williams, Pritchard.
Palace: Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyaté, Zaha, Townsend (Schlupp 90), Ayew.
Subs not used: Guaita, Ward, Kelly, Riedewald, Meyer, Sørloth.
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