Wilfried Zaha is still very much a part of Crystal Palace’s plans for the future, and he proved that once again by scoring twice to lead his club to its first victory of the season. Palace came back quickly after going down to Aston Villa with a goal by Ollie Watkins, and the comeback was capped by goals from replacement Jean-Philippe Mateta and the penalty kick’s rebound.
At times, Palace looked unstoppable, and manager Patrick Vieira called it one of his team’s best showings since he took over the reins a year ago. Despite having several outstanding individuals, Vieira chose to highlight their collective strength, saying, “I’m incredibly satisfied.
We played hard from the outset to the last minute. One of the most consistent performances, in my opinion, from beginning to conclusion. After Villa scored on their opening shot, it seemed unlikely that the home team would come back and win. Watkins scored against Crystal Palace’s Vicente Guaita when Leon Bailey deftly diverted a long ball from Tyrone Mings into his path.
However, the home team responded quickly, and tied the game, thanks to a goal by Zaha, who made a blazing run from the halfway line, outran Ezri Konsa, and tucked a low shot into the net.
Halfway through the first half, Palace felt they had taken the lead as Odsonne Édouard set up Jeffrey Schlupp for a low finish. The crowd’s jubilation was short-lived, however, because the video assistant referees judged that Édouard had been offside. Eberechi Eze was a major danger for the home team, and his superb attacking runs left Villa struggling to keep up. After Zaha’s assist for Jordan Ayew, Palace nearly took the lead again, but Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martnez saved the low shot.
Early in the second half, Palace was once again on top, and a long pass from Joachim Andersen found Ayew, but Martnez reacted swiftly to smother the ball. Even so, Villa continued to pose a threat on occasion and was only kept from scoring twice by a crossbar-bound shot from Bailey as he cut inside from the edge of the area. To retaliate, Palace’s Ayew set up Édouard, but the latter’s shot sailed wide, much to the dismay of the home fans.
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After 58 minutes, Villa gave up a penalty after Lucas Digne was called for handling the ball after Marc Guéhi had headed the ball. Andy Madley, the referee, consulted the screen after receiving a VAR recommendation and then pointed to the penalty spot. When asked about the penalty, Villa head coach Steven Gerrard commented, “A major moment goes against us. That seems cruel to me. The extent of Lucas’s abilities is unclear to me. When he tries to leap on his own, he accidentally knocks himself out.
The players are making an effort, but the penalty changed the game’s flow. Though not the sole cause of our team’s defeat, it was a decisive moment nonetheless. After last week’s victory over Everton, Gerrard lamented Aston Villa’s inconsistency, and the team’s two straight-away losses will worry him.
Zaha took the penalty, but Martnez made the save. However, he was the first to react, and he put away the rebound for his third goal of the year. Only Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-min scored more league goals than Zaha did in 2022. Eze’s free reign across the attack didn’t stop him from wreaking havoc, and a breathless run was stopped only by a crucial block from Digne.
After playing a one-two with Zaha, Palace stepped up the tempo and scored an unbelievable third goal when Mateta buried a shot into the back of the net with his first touch after a wonderful cross from Tyrick Mitchell.
The crowd at Selhurst Park went wild as Eze set up Mateta for another shot, but this time the forward’s powerful effort sailed well wide of the goal. Will Hughes should have given Palace a fourth goal, but Martnez saved his weak attempt.
When Villa was exhausted, it didn’t matter. Vieira’s squad has a lot of promise, as evidenced by Palace’s stunning display.
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