Post by Football News on Nov 25, 2017 17:31:12 GMT
C Palace 2 - 1 Stoke
Mamadou Sakho’s injury-time goal gives Crystal Palace victory over Stoke City
Home team scorers Ruben Loftus-Cheek 56 Mamadou Sakho 90 +1:14
Away team scorers Xherdan Shaqiri 53
An injury time winner from Mamadou Sakho gave Crystal Palace three points over Stoke, a victory whose importance can hardly be overstated for the Premier League’s bottom club.
Second half goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the first a sensational solo effort, looked to have created a stalemate that suited neither side but especially Roy Hodgson’s Eagles. Then, with seconds remaining, Sakho appointed Palace captain turned in from six yards after a scramble and Selhurst Park went delirious.
The game almost immediately fell apart, and despite noise from the crowd – equal parts encouragement and frustration, Palace could not fashion another chance. They might even have lost had Ryan Shawcross not conspired to turn a Shaqiri shot that looked destined for the net wide from two yards out. But then, against all probability, the big Frenchman stepped up to have his final say
A first half that was characterised by hesitancy and a lack of composure was also one full of chances. The first fell to home side in the 17th minute, set up by a dashing run by Wilfried Zaha down the Palace left. Leaving Darren Fletcher gasping in pursuit Zaha hit the byline and pulled the ball back perfectly for Loftus-Cheek only for the youngster to see his low effort blocked excellently by Erik Pieters.
Seven minutes later, and Palace handed Stoke a better chance to open the scoring. Sakho played an ambitious pass through the centre of the field that was picked off by Fletcher. The Scot immediately flicked the ball back over the advanced Palace defence, and into the patch of the onrushing Shaqiri. The Swiss got the ball under control and advanced on Wayne Hennessey, recalled in place of crowd favourite Julian Speroni. But the Welshman was Shaqiri’s equal in this instant and got low to block his shot.
Shaqiri was one of the few players on the pitch to look confident and on the 34th minute he took advantage of a deflection 20 yards out, and whipped a shot just beyond the far post.
Perhaps the best opportunity of the half was still to come however, and it fell to Palace. Loftus-Cheek, growing into the game, was the provider reading Zaha’s through ball and lifting a cross to the far post. James McArthur beat Kurt Zouma to the header but scuffed it, yet this proved to be fortunate as the ball fell at his feet. The Scot lurched forward to poke home from six yards out, only for Lee Grant to smother his effort and clutch the ball to his chest.
Roy Hodgson opted to change things at half-time, withdrawing McArthur for Christian Benteke. The Belgian went to partner Zaha up front with Andros Townsend reverting to a more familiar role on the left wing. The new forward pairing nearly had the desired effect straight away, Benteke firing into the side netting after Zaha had played him through in the 52nd minute.
Just as Palace looked to be gathering steam, Shaqiri sucked the air out of the hosts with a stunning goal. Picking up the ball just inside the Palace half, with few options in front of him, it seemed an innocuous situation but the Swiss drove with the ball, cutting sharply inside as he hit the Palace area before finishing low inside the near post with his left foot. It was over almost as soon as it had begun and Selhurst Park was in disbelief.
Barely 60 seconds later and the hosts were level. Benteke was involved again, winning the first header in the Stoke box. Eventually the ball skewed out left to Townsend who cut inside and drove a low cross across goal with his right foot. Somehow his delivery eluded everyone, including a cluster of three Stoke defenders and there was Loftus-Cheek at the back post to turn in his first goal for the club.