Swaggering Palace storm to victory as Eze and Zaha put Leeds United to the sword
Crystal Palace 4 Leeds United 1
Palace just don’t do first half goals, but they managed three this time, as they stormed to a fine win in a Selhurst Park thriller.
Eberech Eze’s first Premier League goal was the most eye-catching moment from that first-half salvo – a sumptuous free-kick which made it 2-1.
And although Leeds will point to the highly contentious VAR decision which ruled out a seemingly perfectly good goal, the force was definitely with the Eagles, who led early on through Scott Dann and increased their lead before the break with a freakish own goal.
Jordan Ayew’s first goal of the season in the second half sealed an impressive win for Roy Hodgson’s men, who had far too much nous for a sometimes-naïve Leeds outfit, whose hell-for-leather approach left them vulnerable on the break.
Palace had a spring in their step from the beginning and were ahead after 12 minutes when Dann rose up at the far post to head home an Eze corner.
But Leeds were decidedly unlucky not to be on level terms soon after when Patrick Bamford dinked the ball smartly past the advancing Vicente Guaita, after being played through by Mateusz klich.
A VAR-check spared the Eagles, with offside the verdict, but in reality, it was a lucky escape as it seemed only an outstretched arm was ahead of the last defender, while the rest of the striker’s body was not.
Instead, it was Eagles who scored again on 22 minutes, when Eze floated a superb free-kick over the defensive wall from 22 yards and in via the underside of the bar. Quite a way to open his account.
The former QPR midfielder had looked sharp from the word go and won the set piece himself after being manhandled by Robin Koch as he tried to turn the defender on the edge of the box.
Bamford’s disappointment at having a goal chalked off was eased slightly when he got Leeds back into the game on 27 minutes by blasting home his seventh of the season.
The in-form Leeds striker was given too much room after Klich had beaten Cheikhou Kouyate in an aerial dual to nod the ball into space.
But the Eagles restored their two-goal advantage on 42 minutes when Patrick Van Aanholt scampered down the left to meet a cleverly angled pass from Wilfried Zaha and the full-back's cross deflected off Helder Costa to arrow past a flat-footed Illan Meslier at the near post - The Leeds keeper slow to react to the ball’s change of direction.
Palace’s second half was all about good game management, as Leeds kept plugging way, refusing to accept there was no pathway back for them.
But the visitors’ increasingly desperate efforts came to nothing and a fine break-out led to Ayew tucking past Meslier after taking delivery of a ball in from the left from the marauding Zaha and holding off the challenge of Ezgjan Alioski.
Van Aanholt twice went close to making it an even more miserable afternoon for Marcelo Bielsa. The Leeds boss was bellowing in frustration long before the end as his side struggled to find a way back into the contest. Palace moved up to a healthy sixth place after the win.
Palace: Guaita – Clyne, Kouyate, Dann, Van Aanholt – Townsend (Schlupp 72), Riedewald (McCarthy 77), McArthur, Eze – Ayew (Benteke 85), Zaha. Subs not used: Butland, Sakho, Batshuayi, Cahill