Wilfred Zaha scores brace as Crystal Palace thump West Brom 5 – 1. Forward Zaha had missed Palace’s previous two matches – both of which ended in defeat – after testing positive for Covid-19 but quickly found his feet again at The Hawthorns with a typically lively attacking display that included two goals and an assist.
Wilfred Zaha again underlined his importance to Crystal Palace as they took advantage of the controversial dismissal of Matheus Pereira to claim their first points in three games with a rout at West Brom.
It was from his low cross that Darnell Furlong diverted the ball into his own net to give the visitors the lead and his whipped finish into the far corner that restored the advantage after Conor Gallagher’s low, driven equaliser.
Between these two Zaha contributions, though, came the incident that completely altered the complexion of the game – Pereira’s red card.
It seemed unclear, even after multiple replays, whether the Baggies forward intended his boot to make contact with Patrick van Aanholt’s midriff while on the ground, but referee Paul Tierney had no doubt after viewing the incident on the pitch-side monitor.
Prior to that, Albion had been the better side with momentum behind them after Gallagher’s leveller, which came shortly after Furlong had gone close to making amends for his own goal with a header that came back off the bar.
But holding out for almost an hour with 10 men proved impossible, and Zaha sparked a Palace goal-fest.
Christian Benteke headed the first of his two goals of the afternoon from a Van Aanholt cross just four minutes after his strike-partner’s fine finish.
Zaha was on hand again to tap in from close range to make it 4-1 following a driving run into the box from Eberechi Eze before Benteke added the icing with a lovely finish on the turn.
It is the first time Palace have scored five away from home in a top-flight game and lifts them to 11th in the table, three points off the top four.
West Brom remain in the bottom three. Zaha remains Palace’s main man
Roy Hodgson claimed before the season started that this was the strongest squad he has had at his disposal during his time at Crystal Palace.
But Zaha remains the key man.
You need only look at their record without him in Premier League games – just two wins from their past 17. They were limp and unthreatening in their recent defeats by Burnley and Newcastle as their talismanic forward self-isolated but were immediately reinvigorated here by his presence.
He inevitably benefited from the extra space afforded him following Pereira’s red card, but even before that he was an uncontainable menace to the Baggies, forcing Darnell into his costly evasive action as he tried to clear his dangerous early cross.
“I see it from Wilf all the time – I’ve seen it over the last three and a half years,” said Hodgson. “We know he has that ability when we can get the ball to his feet in the final third.
“What he has added to his game this year is goal-scoring. If Wilf can keep that up it bodes very well for us.” He has now scored or assisted 10 of Palace’s 16 goals this season. No wonder Hodgson opted to take him off with 10 minutes remaining and the game won.
“He was a bit disappointed I took him off with 10 minutes to go because he wanted a hat-trick,” added Hodgson. “That’s a good sign. “I would have been less happy if he said ‘I was quite content to come off, I don’t need the third goal’.”
Zaha’s departure left Benteke to claim the limelight with a second goal, meaning in this one game alone he has matched his scoring tally for last season and doubled that of the season before.
It was a tough afternoon for Slaven Bilic’s side, who have now conceded a league-high 23 goals this season. Bilic can take some heart from the way his side played with 11 men, but will be worried by the manner in which they utterly capitulated with 10.
“I’m not happy with the way we collapsed at 2-1 – you can’t do that – but for us to be competitive and be strong we need all of them on the pitch,” said Bilic.
“After the second goal, especially after the third goal, it became too easy for them. We didn’t mark, everybody was thinking and relying on their team-mate to do the job.”
On the red card, Bilic added: “It was a cheap one. For me, he gave [the referee] an option [to send him off].
“The more you watch it, the less it is a red card. Maybe there’s a little contact. I would say a reaction is there but it wasn’t a kick. If he gives them an option to give him a red card, you can’t do it.”
Hodgson returns to haunt another old club – the stats
- Roy Hodgson has won 11 Premier League matches against teams he’s previously managed in the division – no manager has won more such matches (Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce also have 11 wins vs former clubs).
- Since the start of the 2012-13 season, only Olivier Giroud (31) has scored more headed Premier League goals than Christian Benteke (27).
- Conor Gallagher (20 years and 304 days) became the youngest player to score in consecutive Premier League games for West Brom since Saido Berahino in January 2014 (20 years 150 days).
- Matheus Pereira’s straight red card for West Brom makes it 12 of 13 red cards this season that have been straight dismissals (92%) – last season, only 57% of red cards in the Premier League were for straight red cards (25/44).
- Wilfried Zaha has scored seven goals in nine Premier League games for Crystal Palace this season – Zaha’s previous seven goals came over 49 appearances.
- West Brom became the first team to score an own goal and receive a red card in the first half of a Premier League game since Spurs at West Ham in May 2014, and the first to do so in a home game since Bolton Wanderers vs Leicester in December 2001.
- Darnell Furlong became the first player to score an own goal and register an assist in a Premier League game since Denis Odoi for Fulham against Burnley in January 2019.
- Among the 18 teams who have a had player sent off in at least 30 Premier League games, West Brom have lost the highest percentages of those games, losing 21 of the 31 games when receiving a red card (68%).
Source – BBC News