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Match Reports

Palace take three points back to south London after entertaining Cardiff clash

4 May 2019

An entertaining game in Wales saw Palace emerge victorious thanks to goals from Wilfried Zaha, Michy Batshuayi and Andros Townsend.

Crystal Palace made the trip to Cardiff City knowing that they would be in for a tough afternoon, with the Bluebirds playing for their Premier League survival.

After the goalless game at Selhurst Park last time out for the Eagles against Everton, Roy Hodgson made four changes to the side. Jordan Ayew made his first start for Palace since 30th January, Joel Ward came in at left-back again just like he did in the recent Arsenal victory, with Andros Townsend and Michy Batshuayi completing the personnel changes for the Eagles.

Josh Murphy, inside the first minute, let the Eagles know that they were going to be in for the evening that they very much expected, with the winger’s ambitious effort from outside the box skipping across the face of Vicente Guaita’s goal and clipping the outside of the post.

Josh Murphy Andros Townsend Cardiff City.jpg

Palace replied to the Bluebirds' quick opening, though, winning a corner which found Andros Townsend at the back post; the winger created space with some lovely footwork before finding Martin Kelly’s head with a cross, which brought about Palace’s first effort on target.

The opening minutes were played with real tenacity, as Cardiff looked for an opener to settle their nerves. The way in which the game was being played was epitomised by Victor Camarasa being forced off early for the hosts after a heavy impact collision with Joel Ward.

Victor Camarasa injury Cardiff City.jpg

Moments before the creative midfielder left the play, though, Palace had another shot on target. A delightful flick from Batshuayi found Ayew with some space a few yards inside the Cardiff half; the forward played it out to Townsend who pulled off a trademark cut-inside shot, but Neil Etheridge got down well.

The next 15 minutes passed without too much of note, as both teams tussled for possession in the middle of the pitch. But the warning signs for Cardiff were there, that their former on-loan player Wilfried Zaha was eyeing the goal that would see him reach 10 Premier League goals for the Eagles for the first in a season.

A solid 50:50 tackle from Ayew saw the Ghanaian surge forward, before knocking the ball back to Luka Milivojevic in the centre circle, with the Serbian international slotting a perfect ball between the right-back and right-centre-back of the Bluebirds’ backline, to find an on-rushing Zaha.

The Ivory Coast international cut inside and sent a low drive down to Etheridge’s right-hand side post, however, the shot was just the wrong side to open the scoring.

The one-time Cardiff City winger did get his goal, though, just two minutes later; starting the move, Zaha drove forward, played the ball out to Townsend, who had now switched over to the left-hand side of the midfield to unsettle Cardiff, with Townsend then returning the ball to Zaha on the edge of the box.

It was then all down to the work of the tricky Zaha that saw Palace take the lead; Zaha lost Aron Gunnarsson with ease on the edge of the box, before sending a low shot, reminiscent of the one two minutes earlier, only this time it went the right side of the Cardiff goal.

Zaha goal Cardiff.jpg

That goal marked Zaha’s 10th goal of the Premier League season, and also now means that the Eagles icon is now enjoying his best-ever season in front of goal for Palace.

The joy of Roy Hodgson’s side taking the lead was short-lived when Martin Kelly, after spotting the danger from a Leandro Bacuna cross, unfortunately turned the ball into his own net on 31 minutes.

Martin Kelly own goal.jpg

Palace responded well from the almost instant setback, and on the 39th minute Hodgson’s boys were back in charge of proceedings.

A lovely move down the left, saw Zaha find Milivojevic, with the captain crossing into Batshuayi, before the Belgium international played a quick one-two with his strike partner, Ayew, which created plenty of time and space for Batshuayi to rifle Palace’s second goal of the game into the top corner of Etheridge’s goal.

Batshuayi goal Cardiff.jpg

Cardiff again rallied and tried to be, at the very least, level come half-time. However, Guaita was having none of it, and tipped over superbly from a Bruno Ecuele Manga header in the 42nd minute, after a deep corner from the Bluebirds.

The final bit of noteworthy action in an entertaining 45 minutes nearly resulted in Palace going in with a two-goal cushion at half-time. Townsend was getting greater joy down the left-hand side, and another cross from the Englishman found Batshuayi six-yards out, however, the on-loan striker’s diving header was superbly saved by the Etheridge.

The second-half started with several Aaron Wan-Bissaka slide tackles, which demonstrated to the Eagles that Cardiff weren’t giving up on the Premier League status just yet. And in the 55th minute, Murphy really should’ve tested Guaita, however, the former Norwich City man scuffed his shot wide of the post despite being unmarked at the back stick.

The next Cardiff chance fell to Murphy too, when in the 62nd minute he sent a bending effort towards the bottom corner of the Palace goal, however, with Guaita heading down low to save the shot, it took a deflection in a busy Palace box but the Spaniard was still able to reorganise himself, mid-dive, to keep Palace in the lead.

Cardiff were now going for the jugular, and in the 64th minute sub Kenneth Zohore went clean through thanks to a defence-splitting pass from Bobby De Cordova Reid but out came Guaita, teasing the striker to shoot through his legs and yet again the No.31 for Palace stifled the attempt with a smart save.

As the game ticked into the 70th minute, Palace launched a counter-attack down Cardiff’s left-hand side. However, this attack was a one-man band, with Townsend sprinting down the right, cutting in, and as he has done so often in his Eagles career, finding the back of the net thanks to the inside of Cardiff’s post.

Andros Townsend goal Cardiff.jpg

Cardiff came close to making it a more nervy final 15 minutes for the Eagles, however, James McArthur retreated superbly to clear an effort off the line and to keep Palace's two-goal margin intact.

The game ultimately broke out into a game of attack-v-attack as Cardiff pushed for at least a point, all whilst Hodgson's attacking quartet of Zaha, Townsend, Max Meyer and Bakary Sako sensed a chance to trouble a stretched Bluebirds rearguard as they pushed more and more players forward.

There was a real feeling around the ground that there were plenty more goals in this game, for both sides, and when Guaita saved well from Mendez-Laing, the goalscoring was seemingly over. However, as the game ticked into injury time, Bobby Reid curled one into the bottom of the net, setting up a cagey final few minutes as Cardiff needed a point to take their chances of Premier League survival to the final gameweek.

It didn't happen though, with Palace bagging another away day win that confirmed Cardiff City's relegation to the Championship.

Cardiff: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Bennett, Gunnarsson, De Cordova-Reid, Ward (Zohore 59), Murphy (Hoilett 79), Camarasa (Bacuna 9), Mendez-Laing. Subs Not Used: Richards, Cunningham, Murphy, Healey.

Palace: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Dann, Kelly, Ward, Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend (Kouyaté 83), Ayew (Meyer 77), Zaha, Batshuayi (Sako 73). Subs Not Used: Hennessey, Van Aanholt, Riedewald, Wickham.

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