Stoke City’s shocking finishing in the final 10 minutes at Selhurst Park saw Crystal Palace ensure their premier league survival with a deserved 2-1 win on Saturday.
- Crystal Palace 2 Stoke City 1
- Crouch heads straight at Hennessey
- Adam scores against the run of play
- Wickham hits the post
- Gayle scores 25-yard free kick
- Stoke waste three late chances
Charlie Adam opened the scoring for the visitors, finishing a lovely move on the edge of the Palace penalty area.
Dwight Gayle grabbed a second-half brace to give the Eagles a deserved lead.
With 10 minutes left, Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters, and Marko Arnautovic each squandered opportunities to draw the Potters level.
The coveted 40-point mark beckoned for Alan Pardew’s men before kickoff. Facing a Stoke City side who had conceded 13 goals in four matches, the Palace manager knew that this would be as good a chance of securing his side’s Premier League survival as any.
It was a match of little consequence for Stoke, but if their three best forwards had retained their composure in the final ten minutes, they could have improved their chances of a top-half league placing come the end of the month.
Palace came very close to scoring the opening goal as early as the fourth minute when a free kick from Yohan Cabaye struck Xherdan Shaqiri and looped towards the left-hand corner of Jakob Haugard’s goal with the keeper in no position to make a stop. Fortunately for the visitors it was just wide of the upright.
From the resultant corner Damien Delaney failed to take advantage of Stoke’s inability to clear the ball but his shot was high and wide.
Arnautovic had an opportunity soon after to capitalise on an error by Scott Dann, robbing the midfielder of possession, surging towards the Palace area but opting to cross to Crouch who was running towards the back post. The effort was over-hit and sailed out of play.
The home team’s cries for a penalty were ignored by the referee after Dwight Gayle was brought down by Glenn Whelan on the edge of the Palace area. The referee didn’t spot a foul and replays suggested the clash happened outside of the penalty area.
Charlie Adam’s terrific delivery into the Palace box was met by Crouch who did extremely well to shake off his marker, but his header was poorly directed and easily dealt with by Wayne Hennessey.
Both sides continued to look impressive going forward but it was the visitors who were first to score. Adam, whose crosses into the Palace area had been a threat throughout the half, found himself at the end of a lovely move between Giannelli Imbula and Arnautovic and slotted home neatly past Hennessey.
Gayle again went down in the Stoke penalty area and again his appeals for a penalty were denied by referee Kevin Friend.
Joel Ward, one of the home team’s standout players in the half, put a dangerous cross in for Pape Souare who outpaced his marker but could only head the ball over the crossbar.
The half ended with the majority of the possession going the way of the home team, who also boasted significantly higher pass accuracy percentage. Sadly for the Eagles, their play in the final third let them down.
Palace ushered in the second half with an equaliser, a mere two minutes after the restart. Yannick Bolasie did extremely well to cut in inside from the left flank, beat two defending Stoke players and slip the ball through to Gayle who made no mistake in curling the ball deftly past Haugard.
The home team threatened again 15 minutes later. Some neat interplay between Connor Wickham, Dann and Gayle ended with the latter prodding the ball neatly into the path of Jason Puncheon, but the onrushing midfielder’s toe-poke is just wide.
A clearly rejuvenated Palace continued to heap pressure on the Stoke defence – Bolasie again the creator. The winger’s pace got him past his marker and his through-ball to Souare who just manages to get to the ball before it rolls out and whipped a superb cross into the Stoke area where Wickham’s header clatters into the upright and out of play.
Palace got their deserved second goal nine minutes later through a fantastic strike from Gayle. The home side’s dangerous-looking counter attack was broken up by a foul on Wickham and from the resultant free-kick, the Eagles’ 25-year old striker absolutely thundered the ball past the wall and past the stationary Haugard.
With seven minutes of regular time left, the visitors – who up until that point had looked devoid of ideas going forward – suddenly found their feet.
Taking advantage of Palace’s defensive tactic, the Potters started playing a more direct game – throwing long passes upfield for Crouch and Arnautovic.
This strategy almost paid immediate dividends as they managed to craft three excellent opportunities in as many minutes. Sadly their finishing let them down and all three chances came to nothing.
The first fell to Crouch, whose header from six yards out flew wide. Two minutes later Crouch headed down to Walters whose effort from the right-hand side of the penalty area had the beating of Hennessey but trickled harmlessly past the post.
A minute later, Arnautovic, who up until that point had been Stoke’s standout player squandered the chance of the match. The Austrian did exceptionally well to control Ireland’s pass and round the Crystal Palace keeper but somehow managed to smash the ball over the crossbar with an empty net in front of him.
— Yannick Bolasie (@YannickBolasie) May 7, 2016