Crystal Palace put frustrating recent results behind them with a confident 1-2 victory over Fulham, enjoying a characteristic performance that saw them defend with aplomb and attack with ruthless impact.
- Roy Hodgson makes three changes to the side which kicked-off against Brighton & Hove Albion, handing Nathaniel Clyne his first start since returning
- After a quiet first few minutes, the Eagles take an early lead when Wilfried Zaha feeds Jairo Riedewald excellently in the box
- Fulham hit the post twice as Zaha troubles the hosts
- Michy Batshuayi's goal is ruled out for offside
- Half-time: Fulham 1-0 Crystal Palace
- The second-half begins much like the first
- Palace add a second through Zaha after two fine passes by Andros Townsend and Michy Batshuayi
- Tyrick Mitchell and Batshuayi enjoy shots on target, but goalkeeper Alphonse Areola denies both
- Aboubakar Kamara is sent off for a foul on Eberechi Eze
- Zaha hits the back of the net but is also ruled out for offside
- Tom Cairney nets an eye catching late consolation
- Full-time: Fulham 1-2 Crystal Palace
Throughout a steady, uneventful start, Crystal Palace sat back in the face of Fulham’s seemingly urgent possession. In typical Palace fashion, the Eagles appeared calm and composed with their gameplan, perhaps pre-empting what happened next.
Wilfried Zaha, also in typical Palace fashion, collected the ball along the left and worked his way to the hosts’ box before chopping into space for a shot on goal. Recent signing Alphonse Areola did well to deny the effort at his near post but the Cottagers couldn’t prevent Zaha from regaining possession.
With the ball back at his feet, the Ivorian slipped a visionary pass into Jairo Riedewald’s path, and the Palace midfielder slotted home accordingly.
Fulham responded when possession returned their way at the restart, forcing Vicente Guaita to knock an Ademola Lookman effort onto his near post before the on loan Cottager skewed well wide from distance.
The Eagles upheld their earlier approach, absorbing Fulham’s play with confidence and troubling twice Areola through Zaha; the first well blocked and the second headed wide from close range.
These threats couldn’t allow Palace to relax, however, as Lookman again thwacked the post before Aleksandar Mitrovic struck over an unguarded goal. Indeed, much of Fulham’s attacking play came through Lookman - reflecting Roy Hodgson’s recent warning about the calibre of the Whites’ summer additions.
But Lookman wasn’t the only on loan frontman trying to impact the afternoon, and for the second game running Michy Batshuayi saw a potential Palace second ruled out for offside, straying too deep into the box before slotting home a rebounded effort five yards from the flailing ‘keeper.
Play settled somewhat for the first-half’s remaining 10 minutes, with half-time signalled after Luka Milivojevic struck a free-kick inches over Areola’s bar.
Little changed with the players’ reemergence: Palace breaking threateningly in the face of Fulham's largely ineffective possession.
Riedewald continued to show a tenacious hunger for the ball in midfield, Zaha an electric turn of pace on the wings and the backline a cool, dominant control in the visitors' half - Cheikhou Kouyate and Scott Dann at its heart.
This well-enacted style hinted at the game dipping into a lull; Palace perhaps just holding their lead until the final whistle. But no, instead it paid dividends in an almost predictable manner as the Eagles broke devastatingly.
The swift attacking passage began with an excellent, deft pass from Andros Townsend into Batshuayi’s path. The Belgium international slid a ball brashly across the face of goal, where Zaha hurled himself forward to prod home and secure Palace their second. Zaha’s hunger for the ball saw him collide forcefully with the post, but pick himself up after a minute on the turf.
Buoyed by their reinforced lead, the Eagles came close to a third when Areola denied Tyrick Mitchell’s first-time effort before Batshuayi’s speculative shot was comfortably held.
Both sides reshuffled their pack: Palace looking to sustain their solid shape and energise the counter through Eberechi Eze and Fulham hunting a late point that grew ever further from their grasp.
Eze's introduction clearly unsettled his hosts, and shortly after taking to the field fellow substitute Aboubakar Kamara saw red for raking his studs down his opponent's calf.
Kamara left the field without complaint, but his undramatic exit wouldn't mark the end of the afternoon's action. Palace guarded their lead with the assurance they displayed all match, softly testing Areola through Patrick van Aanholt - but the real talking points came in added time.
Zaha found Fulham's net from three yards out - the fourth time an Eagle would do so this afternoon. But, at such close range, the Ivorian was adjudged to have been offside, and his nonchalant finish suggested a consensus between player and official.
Moments later, Eze danced through towards Areola, only for the talented 'keeper to block him out, force him wide and leave the midfielder to hit the ball into touch.
Fulham still had a threat in their locker by the 96th minute, however, and finally found the net through a fine, long range Tom Cairney strike.
But it was too little, too late and, by the final whistle, the Palace victory that seemed guaranteed for so long was confirmed. The Eagles could make the short journey home content with a fine display.
Fulham: Areola, Ream, Adarabioyo, Aina, Robinson, Lemina (Reed 79), Cairney, Loftus-Cheek (Reid 74), Anguissa (Kamara 66), Lookman, Mitrovic.
Subs: Rodak, Odoi, Le Marchand, Bryan.
Palace: Guaita, Mitchell, Dann, Kouyate, Clyne (Van Aanholt 72), Schlupp (Eze 76), Riedewald (Sakho 85), Milivojevic, Townsend, Zaha, Batshuayi.
Subs: Henderson, Kelly, Meyer, Benteke.
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