Crystal Palace – Aston Villa was a barnstorming clash at Selhurst Park, as the Eagles surged back to win 3-2 in an enthralling encounter.
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Villa took the lead twice in the first half through John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi, as Christian Benteke briefly equalized.
But in the second half Palace surged back as Wilfried Zaha and Tyrick Mitchell scored late on to seal an impressive comeback.
With the win Palace move on to 44 points for the season, while Villa stay on 49.
Three things we learned
1. End of season encounter, in a good way: This was utter madness from start to finish with 42 attempts on goal, the second-highest of any PL game this season. Goals flew in, both teams had chances galore and both just went for it. This is the kind of game you get at the end of the season, in the best sort of way. Palace and Villa don’t have a lot to play for and that allowed them to play with freedom. Their attacking players put on a show and with key defenders missing for both, that was a recipe for an incredible end-to-end-game.
2. Zaha, Benteke, Eze impress: That front trio could cause any defense in the league problems. Eze is a star of the future, while Zaha continues to deliver goals and a cutting edge and Benteke has enjoyed a purple patch of six goals in his last 10 games. With Zaha wanted by plenty of clubs this summer, plus Benteke out of contract, it is key that Palace somehow keep this trio together. They have the perfect blend of aerial ability, trickery and speed. With so many players out of contract this summer, and Roy Hodgson potentially moving on too, there are interesting times ahead for Palace.
3. Villa fail to build on leads: This was a bizarre display from Villa, who were very good in small stages of the match. They started well, got the lead and then sat back and allowed Palace back in the game. They did the same just before half time after taking the lead for a second time too. In the second half they sat back too deep and were well off the pace. Villa’s hopes for a top 10 finish are all but over for this season and although they started the campaign really well, their momentum has totally fizzled out.
Man of the Match: Eberechi Eze – Didn’t score but was involved in everything good that Palace did. Brilliant young talent.
Villa started well as Jacob Ramsey skewed a shot wide, Ollie Watkins looked bright and Kortney Hause twice headed just wide from corners. Watkins then went close but Cheikhou Kouyate denied him at the crucial moment as Palace struggled to get to grips with Villa’s attack.
Jack Butland tipped a shot from Watkins over as Villa poured forward throughout the first half, and eventually they broke through. McGinn struck a low shot on goal which hit the post and went in, as Villa’s captain for the day got them off and running.
Palace fought back after going behind as Benteke and Zaha linked up well, and a great cross from Tyrick Mitchell found Benteke who nodded home to equalize.
No sooner had Palace got level, Villa went back ahead. A looping ball in the box was flicked on by Watkins and El Ghazi slammed home to make it 2-1.
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Palace started the second half well as Zaha whipped in a dangerous cross which just missed his teammates, then Benteke’s header hit the bar and was clawed away brilliantly by Emiliano Martinez.
Villa had a few chances on the break, but Palace got a deserved equalizer. Zaha ran at Ezri Konsa, cut inside and his shot deflected off Ahmed Elmohamady and in.
Eberechi Eze had a shot blocked and then smashed the crossbar with an audacious effort, as Palace looked the more likely to grab a late winner.
And they did, as Palace academy product Mitchell bundled home late on for his first-ever goal.