Roy Hodgson's Palace put in a one of their finest 90 minutes during the manager's tenure, with goals from Scott Dann, Eberechi Eze, an own goal from Hélder Costa and Jordan Ayew securing a well-deserved three points.
- Scott Dann’s superb header gave Palace the lead. 1-0.
- Patrick Bamford had the ball in the back of the net, but harshly ruled out for offside.
- Eberechi Eze won a free-kick, and scores direct from resulting set piece with a wonderful finish. 2-0.
- Bamford scored again – this time it counted. 2-1.
- Patrick van Aanholt’s cross is deflected in off Leeds’ Costa’s in a bizarre manner. 3-1.
- HT: Crystal Palace 3-1 Leeds United
- Wilfried Zaha sets up Jordan Ayew to finish off any Leeds fight-back. 4-1.
- FT: HT: Crystal Palace 4-1 Leeds United
Roy Hodgson and Jeffrey Schlupp spoke post-match last Friday about how the slow start in the first 45 minutes against Wolverhampton Wanderers cost the Eagles dearly, despite an improved second-half performance.
It was clear to see from the first minute that today Palace would not be regretting any slow starts, with Andros Townsend cutting in and lining up a trademark left foot finish. Although the angle was always against the winger, the effort was technically impressive and let Leeds know that they would be in for tough day in south London.
Forty-five minutes later, Palace would go in at half-time 3-1 up. It was Scott Dann who first found the back of the Whites' net, with a ridiculously impressive header from an Eze corner – a first assist in red and blue for the attacker.
And it was to be an afternoon of firsts for Eze, as 10 minutes later his Palace goal account registered its first strike.
If the in-off-the-crossbar free-kick was inch-perfect, then the manner in which Eze won the free-kick was even more so. Robin Koch, as many already have in Eze’s fledgling Palace career, was sold of a dream of securing the ball as Eze cutely let the ball run across his body, inviting the foul from the centre-back.
Just when Hodgson’s side looked to be coasting, Marcelo Bielsa’s side reminded the south Londoners of the threat their style of play poses, with a exceptional knockdown in the box from Mateusz Klich teeing up Bamford for an exquisite volley after controlling well with his chest.
Bielsa and his charges will feel aggrieved at their first goal of the afternoon only halving the Eagles’ lead, rather than tying the game, with Bamford’s armpit earlier penalised for being offside not long after Dann had headed home.
Palace’s energetic and free-flowing game plan was not curtailed by the loss of a clean sheet, and not long before the half-time whistle, Patrick van Aanholt was left perplexed as to how his intended cutback had been diverted past Illan Meslier thanks to the sliding efforts of Costa.
The second-half, despite a half-time change from Bielsa – Raphinha replacing Costa – opened up for 15 minutes or so in a reserved manner. Both teams knowing that the next goal in the game either finished it off or created a frantic finish.
As the clock ticked over the hour-mark, the Whites started to up the ante: Alioski fired wide in Leeds first chance of the half, before Jack Harrison connected well with an excellent Pascal Struijk header down, but Vicente Guaita saved smartly.
As Leeds pushed, Hodgson’s side were offered chances to counter attack, with Wilfried Zaha regularly finding himself in favourable areas of the pitch against favourable numbers of retreating Leeds players. Therefore, it was no surprise to see Zaha set-up Jordan Ayew with a ball across the penalty box, expertly bypassing several Leeds players, to allow his strike partner to calmly tuck away and seal the three points for Hodgson’s excellent Eagles.
Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Kouyaté, Dann, Van Aanholt, Townsend (Schlupp, 72), McArthur, Riedewald (McCarthy, 77), Eze, Ayew (Benteke, 85), Zaha.
Subs not used: Butland, Sakho, Cahill, Batshuyai.
Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas, Klich, Costa (Raphinha, 46), Struijk (Roberts, 72), Alioski, Harrison, Bamford.
Subs not used: Casilla, Poveda-Ocampo, Davis, Jenkins, Casey.