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      Report: Superb showing sees Palace end 2023 on a high

      Crystal Palace
      Olise 14' 58'
      Eze 39'
      Lewis-Potter 2'

      Clinical finishes from Michael Olise (two) and Ebere Eze helped Palace end 2023 on a high, a superb performance fully deserving of its 3-1 win over Brentford at Selhurst Park.


      • Palace unchanged for final game of 2023
      • Lewis-Potter slides in to give visitors second-minute lead
      • Ayew crosses to the back post for Olise to guide home volleyed equaliser
      • Henderson denies Lewis-Potter as Brentford threaten in open start
      • Mitchell’s low pass is left by Mateta, allowing Eze to slam Palace into the lead
      • Pinnock’s back-pass almost beats his own ‘keeper as Eagles finish half strongly
      • HT: Palace 2-1 Brentford
      • Palace pick up where they left off, dominating the early stages of the second-half
      • Olise dances between two defenders to find the bottom corner for Palace’s third
      • No. 7 goes close to hat-trick, bending wide at the end of a counter-attack
      • Maupay smashes against the bar from distance
      • Wissa misses from close range as Brentford seek route back into the match
      • Andersen heads wide from Olise free-kick
      • Henderson denies Maupay with fine late save
      • FT: Palace 3-1 Brentford

      Palace’s run of tricky December games culminated in the visit of Brentford to Selhurst Park, with manager Roy Hodgson saying ahead of the game: “I think, to go out like we've done in these last four games and give such a good account of ourselves against top opponents, that should give me heart.”

      That carried through into his team selection for the game, as the Eagles went unchanged from the midweek late defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – with the additional boon of top scorer Odsonne Edouard returning to the matchday squad after three weeks’ absence.

      As has become club tradition, the final match of the calendar year began with a moving tribute to members of the Palace family – former players, staff and supporters – who had passed away over the course of 2023, celebrated with a minute’s applause.

      When the on-field action began, it was frenetic.

      Brentford struck first inside the opening two minutes. An inventive flick from Mathias Jensen set Mads Roerslev on his way down the right, and his curling cross was met on the slide by Keane Lewis-Potter, who dispatched it with aplomb.

      But Palace rose to the early challenge, working their way back into the match with some patient and, when it mattered, incisive build-up play.

      It was the Eagles’ first sustained spell of possession which yielded their equaliser on 13 minutes.

      As had been the case at Stamford Bridge, Jordan Ayew was the provider for Olise, a fine curling cross towards the back post impressively guided back across goal – and into the top corner – by the Palace No. 7 with the outside of his left boot.

      With Palace coming off an eight-game winless run, and Brentford having lost their last four themselves, both teams’ desire to make a fast start was apparent – and the visitors were next to go close with almost a carbon copy of their opener, only for Lewis-Potter to, on this occasion, shoot straight at Dean Henderson in goal.

      Both sides continued to trade blows, Lewis-Potter heading one floated delivery back across goal – and narrowly wide – and Ayew offering particular threat with his direct running into the Brentford box.

      The pace of the game did settle after the early flurry, but Palace would take the lead prior to half-time courtesy of more patient build-up play – and, when the time came to strike, an utterly ruthless finish.

      The Eagles worked it right-to-left, Chris Richards spraying to Tyrick Mitchell, whose low pass was left by Jean-Philippe Mateta for Ebere Eze to take one touch across the defender – and another to slam an instinctive left-footed shot into the far bottom corner.

      The margin of Palace's lead might even have been two at half-time, with mis-placed back-passes from Ethan Pinnock and Vitaly Janelt not far off producing own-goals.

      Palace left the field of play to a roar of approval from Selhurst – and that continued early in the second-half as they mounted wave upon wave of pressure in the opening stages, Ayew’s sliced effort and Jefferson Lerma’s near-post header both close to extending the lead.

      A rare Brentford attack saw Henderson produce a comfortable save from Christian Nørgaard, while at the other end Olise’s latest solo venture saw his effort beaten away by Flekken.

      Yet the visitors’ reprieve was temporary, as Marc Guéhi won the ball in midfield and squared for the Palace No. 7, who danced across the box, between two defenders – and tucked in a cute finish into the bottom-left corner.

      Brentford went on to enjoy greater possession in the next chapter of the match, but at the other end, another lightning counter-attack – sprung by Mateta’s hold-up play – afforded space for Olise to curl a strike inches wide of his first-ever professional hat-trick.

      Eze was next to go close with a strike on the spin from Olise’s square pass, but Flekken was able to claim comfortably enough.

      A series of late changes for Brentford saw them mount their own period of sustained pressure on the Eagles’ goalmouth, coming close twice in quick succession when Neal Maupay’s long-range strike hit the frame of the goal and Yoane Wissa somehow diverted Vitaly Janelt’s in-swinging cross over the bar from six yards.

      Yet see out Brentford’s barrage they did, and Palace came close to scoring a fourth when Joachim Andersen’s back-post header – meeting Olise’s whipped free-kick – found the side-netting.

      There was still time for Henderson to produce an outstanding fingertip save to deny Maupay’s looping effort, and Olise to almost force a hat-trick via a late deflection off Pinnock.

      But three goals were enough to bring Selhurst Park to its feet once more – a Happy New Year indeed, as the quality of a Palace display finally received its just rewards.

      Palace: Henderson (GK), Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Richards, Lerma, Eze (Hughes, 86), Olise, Mateta (França, 86), Ayew (Schlupp, 90+2)

      Subs: Matthews (GK), Tomkins, Riedewald, Ozoh, Ahamada, Edouard

      Brentford: Flekken (GK), Pinnock, Zanka, Collins, Ghoddos, Roerslev (Onyeka, 63), Nørgaard (Damsgaard, 67), Jensen (Maupay, 63), Janelt (Yarmolyuk, 80), Lewis-Potter (Olakigbe, 80), Wissa

      Subs: Strakosha (GK), Brierley, Adedokun, Peart-Harris

      As It Happened