Report: Eagles on fire with FIVE-goal triumph v West Brom
Their talisman and captain back in the lineup, their hosts reduced to 10 and their frontmen on well-oiled form, Crystal Palace emphatically took their chance to bury recent ghosts with a dominant, free-flowing victory against West Bromwich Albion.
- Roy Hodgson makes three changes to his lineup, starting Wilfried Zaha, Luka Milivojević and Christian Benteke
- After a strong start, Palace take the lead when Darnell Furlong turns into his own net on the end of Zaha’s cross
- The Baggies respond well, Furlong striking the crossbar in one of several attacks
- Eventually, they find the net through Connor Gallagher
- Minutes later, Matheus Pereira sees red for violent conduct against Patrick van Aanholt; VAR advising Paul Tierney to review the monitor on the decision
- Half-time: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Crystal Palace
- Palace start the second-half strongly and enjoy chance after chance
- Zaha capitalises on this dominance with a sensational goal to regain the lead
- Benteke makes it three as he heads in Van Aanholt’s smart chip
- Eberechi Eze links up smartly with Benteke before feeding Zaha, who uses the edge of his boot to net Palace’s fourth
- Four becomes five away from home for the first time in Palace's top-flight history, Benteke striking home on the turn
- Full-time: West Bromwich Albion 1-5 Crystal Palace
Perhaps signposting their desire to regain form, Palace began the clash on the front foot; with the ball zipping across the turf between red and blue bodies. Making their intentions clear within just four minutes, Wilfried Zaha clipped the post with a driven shot from 20 yards, at the first opportunity showing the Eagles can turn possession into chances.
But, equally swiftly, it wouldn’t be a Palace man converting such dominance when Darnell Furlong turned into his own net. The Baggies’ misfortune came after Zaha shrugged Matheus Periera’s challenge off and fizzed a ball across the box, with Furlong lunging and ultimately knocking past Sam Johnstone.
West Brom reacted by landing their first chance on target as Periera struck into Vicente Guaita’s hands following a well-worked move. In a kindred move, Christian Benteke lofted a ball into Zaha’s path only for the Ivorian to volley high, but both sides had flexed their attacking muscles for the still-empty stadium.
This semi-peacocking in attack continued for the man who needed it most: Furlong thwacking the crossbar with a powerful header after another smooth West Brom passage.
Matt Phillips then struck into Guaita’s confident gloves before Johnstone denied a smart Benteke header.
But the chances would again yield goals around the half-hour mark, with the visitors this time grasping hold of the game. Their equaliser came from another noteworthy spell; Sami Ajayi feeding Phillips who set-up Connor Gallagher with precision. The ball played accurately into his feet, Gallagher vindicated his teammates’ decision to pass and calmly slotted home.
The hosts’ jubilation would last all of three minutes, however, turning to apprehension and then deflation when referee Paul Tierney reviewed the VAR monitor and handed Pereira a red card for kicking Patrick van Aanholt in a clumsy challenge.
The Baggies did well to secure their level footing before being reduced to 10-men, and their attractive attacking approach subsided, the visitors instead collecting the baton.
Palace chances came fast through Benteke, Zaha and even Gary Cahill but the home side defended committedly to guard their goalmouth. Roy Hodgson’s men behaved similarly when Jeffrey Schlupp and then Benteke desperately knocked away West Brom crosses just yards from the net.
The half-time breather will have been well met by both sides, and Palace knew a confident second-half could deliver three points against their hosts' handicap.
The second spell began more steadily than the first, a state of affairs no doubt anticipated against 10-men. Benteke, who looked bright, earned Palace’s opening chance as he drove down the left flank, however his burst was nullified by Ajayi’s nippy shadowing.
The Eagles were very much still the ascendant side, however, with Zaha having two shots deflected wide and Van Aanholt seeing a stinging effort saved adeptly by a flying Johnstone.
Applying more and more pressure on their stretched hosts, Palace forced West Brom into two last-ditched clearances from a corner before emphatically regaining their lead.
Having camped on the edge of the Baggies’ box, Palace knocked loudly at the door and, when James McArthur fed Zaha 20 yards out, the Ivorian burst through with power, bending home a piledriving effort in trademark style.
With the wind in his side’s sails, Benteke too sent the net bulging with a familiar approach; heading in off the ground as Van Aanholt chipped cutely into his path.
Palace’s ruthless handling of the 10-man Baggies saw them enjoy a comfortable lead as West Brom made a second defensive change to mitigate against further damage.
Ghosts of their very recent past well and truly buried, the south Londoners could be forgiven for sitting back and seeing out their lead. But Hodgson’s charges had other ideas.
Eberechi Eze became heavily involved in the attacking action as he played a sumptuous one-two with Benteke before skipping into the box and laying-off Zaha to his right. Reacting quickly in little space, the No.11 clipped the ball with the edge of his boot and expertly guided it past Johnstone to find Palace’s fourth.
The game finally settled for a while and found the tempo expected for a three-goal lead. Both sides saw tame chances come and go and each manager made further changes, but the altered makeup didn't affect Palace's fortunes.
Instead, for the first time in top-flight history, they netted five away from home as Benteke turned his marker, pivoted on the edge of the box and fired home with aplomb before celebrating with a confident smile.
This confidence carried the south Londoners through the final 10 minutes, all 11-men and their manager still keen to test their hosts.
But five would remain five for Crystal Palace in their strongest attacking performance in top-flight history; certainly not a bad result to accept.
West Brom: Johnstone, Furlong, Ivanović, Bartley, Ajayi, Phillips, Diangana (Krovinovic 45), Gallagher, Sawyers (O'Shea 80), Pereira, Grant (Robinson 62).
Subs: Button, Gibbs, Grosicki, Austin.
Palace: Guaita, Van Aanholt, Kouyaté, Cahill, Clyne, McArthur (Riedewald 72), Milivojević, Schlupp (Ayew 74), Eze, Zaha (Batshuayi 81), Benteke.
Subs: Butland, Ward, Sakho, Townsend.
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