Eze on target as Palace do just enough to get the better of Wolves
Crystal Palace (0) 1 (Eze 60)
Wolves (0) 0
Eberechi Eze’s excellent finish was just enough to secure only a second win for Palace in 11 outings.
Chances had been few and far between until the moment when the former QPR midfielder dropped a shoulder to send Leander Dendoncker the wrong way as the ball was worked from the right by Jordan Ayew and a low left-footer gave Rui Patricio no chance.
Eze scored a blinding solo effort in Palace’s last win – against Sheffield United on January 2 – and already his deft touch and eye for goal are proving invaluable for Roy Hodgson’s men.
Victory made up for two defeats suffered by the Eagles at Molineux earlier this season, when they failed to find the net in league and FA Cup reverses. It also arrested a dangerous slide towards the relegation zone and they will breathe more easily after this win.
It was a victory without frills, played out in pouring rain, but the Eagles will not be concerned about artistic merit.
They might have made it easier on themselves in the final stages, as Wilfield Zaha should have doubled the lead 10 minutes after Eze’s goal after turning inside Conor Coady and rifling a left-foot shot against the cross bar – the chance coming after a lightning breakaway led by Michy Batshuayi.
And it might have been costly, had Vicente Giuaita not made a fine reflex save to keep out a close-range header from Willian Jose at a corner. But it ended all smiles in the home dug out.
Wolves showed again in their midweek 0-0 draw with Chelsea that they are a very well-organised outfit, capable of frustrating the best teams.
They do not possess the edge they had before Raul Jimenez’ lengthy enforced absence because of his terrible head injury but they are still tough to break down.
In a first half mostly mired in midfield, the best the Eagles could come up with was a Nathaniel Clyne drive that cleared the bar and half-chance for Batshuayi that went the same way.
Jose came mightily close to breaking the deadlock after meeting a cross from Daniel Podence with a fine first-time shot, but Guaita threw up a hand to tip over.
It was not to be the last time the Wolves striker would be thwarted by the Spanish keeper, but his team did not cause too many alarms apart from those two big moments – even if the introduction of Adama Traore down the right inevitably focused a few minds.
It’s Newcastle and Leeds away next for the contented Eagles before they return to face Burnley at Selhurst in a couple of weeks.
Palace: Guaita – Clyne (Ward 85), Kouyate, Dann, Van Aanholt – Eze, Milivojevic, McCarthy (Riedewald h/t), Zaha – Ayew, Batshuayi (Townsend 80). Subs not used: Butland, Mateta, Benteke, Cahill, Mitchell, Kelly
Wolves: Patricio – Boly, Coady, Kilman – Hoever (Traore 63), Dendoncker, Moutinho (Silva 78), Semedo – Podence (Vitinha 68), Willian Jose, Neto. Subs not used: Ruddy, Neves, Silva, Gibbs-White, Otasowie, Lonwijk, Bueno