Eberechi Eze struck the decisive goal as Crystal Palace recorded their first Premier League victory since August with a 2-1 triumph over Leeds United.
Patrick Vieira’s side fell behind to Pascal Struijk’s early opener at Selhurst Park but rallied back with Odsonne Edouard grabbing a first-half equaliser.
With the game in the balance with less than 15 minutes remaining, Eze ensured all three points for Palace with a lovely solo effort.
The visitors were rewarded for their bright start with an opener after 10 minutes, Struijk on hand to slot home the rebound after the lively Brenden Aaronson crashed a shot off the bottom of the post.
Leeds continued to dominate, but Palace grabbed an equaliser against the run of play when Edouard headed in Michael Olise’s teasing free-kick delivery.
Palace were much improved in the second half – but opportunities were still few and far between.
Jordan Ayew, who would later go off injured, had a chance to give Palace the lead but took a touch too many and allowed Rasmus Kristensen to make an important block.
With both sides out of form, a draw wouldn’t have satisfied either manager, but Palace always looked more likely to win it and their moment duly arrived when Eze dropped his shoulder to create space on the edge of the box before rifling a powerful low shot into the bottom corner to beat Illan Meslier.
Victory lifts Palace up to 14th, level on points with Leeds, who remain 13th.
TALKING POINT – PALACE FINALLY CLIMBING THE TABLE
Palace started the day just a place above the relegation zone, above Wolves in 18th only by virtue of a superior goal difference. But the general consensus is that Vieira’s side have played well so far this season and were occupying a ‘false’ position having already faced Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
There was concern amongst the Selhurst Park faithful that a productive performance would once again go unrewarded until Eze’s winner. Vieira was clearly relieved at the final whistle and he will be quietly confident that his team can continue to climb the table, with Leicester and Wolves next up.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – EBERECHI EZE (CRYSTAL PALACE)
After a subdued first half, Eze turned on the style with a lively performance after the restart. The midfielder was at the heart of everything positive Palace had to offer.
Crystal Palace: Guaita 6, Ward 6, Guehi 7, Andersen 7, Schlupp 6, Olise 7, Doucoure 6, Eze 8*, Ayew 6, Edouard 7, Zaha 7.. subs: Mitchell 6, Milivojevic 7, Mateta N/A, Hughes N/A.
Leeds: Meslier 6, Kristensen 6, Koch 6, Cooper 6, Struijk 7, Adams 6, Roca 6, Aaronson 7, Rodrigo 6, Harrison 6, Bamford 5.. subs: Ayling N/A, Summerville 5, Gelhardt N/A, Klich 5.
10’ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 0-1 LEEDS (PASCAL STRUIJK): Leeds have the opener! Aaronson slaloms his way into the Palace penalty area, riding tackle after tackle before getting his shot away. It looks like the chance is gone as the ball crashes off the post but Struijk is there to slot home the rebound!
24’ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 1-1 LEEDS (ODSONNE EDOUARD): Somewhat against the run of play, Palace have their equaliser! Olisse floats a gorgeous free-kick delivery into the box, it’s begging to be attacked and it’s Edouard who makes the connection, heading down into the ground and past Meslier!
76′ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 2-1 LEEDS (EBERECHI EZE): There it is! Crystal Palace have their lead and now look likely to grab their first league win since August! It’s a terrific solo effort from Eze, who drops his shoulder to create space on the edge of the box and he rifles a powerful low shot into the bottom corner.