Mamadou Sakho scored with virtually the last kick of the game to earn Crystal Palace a dramatic and potentially vital 2-1 win over Stoke City at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Saturday.
Crystal Palace 2 Stoke City 1
Shaqiri opens scoring
Loftus-Cheek restores parity
Sakho scores late
After an energetic first half, which was entertaining despite producing few chances, the dynamic of the game changed completely when Xherdan Shaqiri broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute.
The lead lasted less than 180 seconds, however, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek drew his side level in the 56th minute and, just when it seemed the match would end in a draw, Sakho popped up barely seconds left on the clock to stab home the winning goal.
After a measured start to the match from both teams, Palace had the best chance of the opening exchanges when Wilfried Zaha skinned two defenders before teeing up Loftus-Cheek, but the Englishman’s shot was well blocked by Erik Pieters.
Shaqiri should have given his side the lead around 25 minutes into the game when he was played in by Darren Fletcher, but the forward got the ball stuck in his feet and he was only able to poke a weak effort at goal that was easily saved.
Despite the relatively even nature of the half, Lee Grant only had to make his first save around the 40th minute when he had to smother a deflected header from James McArthur.
After the break, it was clear that neither side was keen to settle for a draw and the action opened up completely.
It took just eight minutes after the restart for the game’s first goal to arrive. Shaqiri showed off his marvellous skill to weave his way through the home side’s defence and dispatch the ball past Wayne Hennessey to put the visitors ahead.
However, the lead lasted less than three minutes with Andros Townsend bursting down the right wing and whipping a low cross into the box that Stoke failed to deal with. It eventually made its way to Loftus-Cheek at the back post and he made no mistake from close range.
The game carried on at a frantic pace with chances at either end and some suspect tackling from both sides as they were desperately searching for a winner.
And just when it seemed the match would not produce a winner, lady luck shined on the Eagles and Sako landed a hammer blow.
Two minutes into injury time at the end of the match, Yohan Cabaye smashed a shot into the post and the ball rebounded ever so kindly for Sakho, who gleefully tapped the ball into an empty net to send the home crowd into raptures.
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) November 25, 2017