Crystal Palace produced a determined and relentless second-half display against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday evening, kicking into top gear after 50 minutes and pinning their guests back to secure consecutive 2-0 wins.
Patrick Vieira makes one change from the winning lineup v Man City, naming Christian Benteke in place of Jordan Ayew
In a relatively quiet opening 20 minutes, Odsonne Edouard comes closest with a shot from inside the box
The game begins to find a rhythm shortly before the break, but it’s slim pickings for both sides
Half-time: Crystal Palace 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wilfried Zaha finds Benteke in the box, but under pressure the forward can only shoot softly
The chance triggers a spell of Palace pressure, with Benteke again going close – this time from a headed corner
Palace score through Zaha, after he was initially ruled offside; the Ivorian strikes deep into the corner after a sensational James McArthur pass
VAR intervenes to overturn a Wolves penalty after Joel Ward is adjudged to have fouled Rayan Aït Nouri in the box. The resulting free-kick is dealt with
Palace almost respond with a second as Edouard forces José Sá into action
The second comes soon enough, with Conor Gallagher bagging from just inside the box
Full-time: Crystal Palace 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
This Saturday afternoon clash pitted two sides together with a similar story: both changing managers in summer after relative consistency, both starting their season brightly and both in similar form: with a five-game unbeaten league run behind each.
So, as might be expected, the game kicked-off with the two teams well matched.
Palace looked sharp along the right-wing, with both Conor Gallagher and Joel Ward testing left-wing-back Rayan Aït-Nouri; and it was from this flank they created their first major chance.
Christian Benteke collected the ball on the halfway line and deftly played a pass into Odsonne Edouard’s path. The forward span, began to drive and then fed Wilfried Zaha on the right. Zaha returned the ball to Edouard in the box, who span with limited space and hacked out a shot which ‘keeper José Sá held at the second attempt.
Wolves seemed content with sitting deep, and Palace weren’t willing to completely unleash their attacking prowess in the first half an hour, which led to a close, largely uneventful opening third.
Joel Ward put in a crunching challenge on the in-form Hwang Hee-Chan, and, as the sun slanted across the faces and flags of the Lower Holmesdale, the game heated up; with fouls and opportunity starting to increase on both sides.
Raúl Jiménez headed into Vicente Guaita’s hands on the end of a testing free-kick, Ward and Gallagher again linked-up along the right and the former put in another spectacular challenge close to goal.
But the half-time whistle came and the scoreline it confirmed brought no surprises: matched on and off the field, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers were deadlocked.
The second-half began in the same vein as the first ended, with neither side getting the crowd on its feet but still keeping one another alert.
Palace created the first truly threatening moment when Wilfried Zaha fed Benteke in the box, but under pressure the Belgian’s resulting shot was soft, and Sá got two firm gloves around it. Edouard unsettled the home defence moments later before a trident of Zaha, Benteke and Edouard bore down on goal only for the visitors to punt the ball to safety.
Gallagher swung corner that followed high into the air but it landed perfectly onto Benteke’s head, with the forward’s effort then powered back into Sá’s hands.
Palace were building an impressive head of steam, and it soon became clear Wolves could only contain them for so long.
When James McArthur collected the ball on the edge of the box, the experienced Scotsman did well to ignore the temptation and calls to shoot, and instead thread a pass through the eye of a needle into Zaha’s path.
The winger strode forward and struck hard to Sá’s right, with the ball played so far into the corner it stretched past the ‘keeper despite the shot’s narrow angle.
Celebrations were paused as the linesman lifted his flag but, after a short VAR check, soon resumed with Palace now ahead.
Wolves bit back with an attacking substitution and assault of their own; Ward committing a foul on Aït-Nouri which was initially adjudged to be inside the box. However, with VAR again intervening, Palace were spared their lead being nullified as a visiting free-kick was cleared without danger.
The hosts almost turned their good fortune into an even greater advantage once they regrouped: Edouard forcing Sá into a save with his legs before squaring the ball just behind Gallagher.
Regardless, Palace’s attacking calibre meant the score didn’t stay static for much longer. Keeping their foot on the pedal, the south Londoners pinned Wolves back and, when the ball dropped to Gallagher in the form he’s in, the net bulged within seconds after the midfielder ran into space and fired home via a deflection.
Palace and Patrick Vieira then seemed to decide that attack is the best form of defence, with Michael Olise, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew taking to the field for the game's closing exchanges.
The approach worked, too, with the south Londoners keeping their guests quiet through a series of half-chances.
This relentless challenge for the visiting defence meant Wolves were denied the time to build any amount of momentum and the final whistle again confirmed a scoreline that brought no surprise: matched in the first-half but not in the second, Crystal Palace had trumped Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Palace: Guaita, Ward, Guéhi, Andersen, Mitchell, McArthur (Schlupp 80), Kouyaté, Gallagher, Zaha, Edouard (Olise 80), Benteke (Ayew 89).
Subs not used: Butland, Tomkins, Kelly, Clyne, Riedewald, Milivojevic.
Wolves: Sá, Kilman, Coady, Saïss, Neves, Aït-Nouri, Trincao (Podence 68), Semedo (Traoré 68), Moutinho, Hee-Chan, Jiménez.
Subs not used: Moulden, Ruddy, Hoever, Cundle, Boly, Silva, Dendoncker.