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Eberechi Eze’s goal from the season contender helped secure the three points as Crystal Palace defeated Sheffield Utd.
Roy Hodgson’s team hadn’t tasted success since they thrashed West Brom in early December, but two first-half goals coupled with a professional display helped them triumph in their first game of the year.
Blades boss Chris Wilder saw his team struggle to create opportunities in the capital and his 15th Premier League loss adds to his relegation concerns.
Luka Milivojevic was a notable inclusion in the crystal Palace XI despite images that appeared on social media of the captain appearing to break the coronavirus rules by mixing with Fulham ace Aleksandar Mitrovic on New Year’s Eve.
Sheffield Utd They only had two points after 16 league games and were left without multiple players due to a combination of injuries, suspension, and Covid-19-related issues.
Four minutes after the procedures at Selhurst Park and his problems increased.
A quick break down the left by Wilfried Zaha saw the Eagles striker finally find Christian Benteke and the forward played a perfectly weighted direct pass into the box for the first goal.
Spiker Schlupp saw his effort deviate before he found the net through the post to bring his campaign tally to two.
He extended the Blades’ streak without a clean sheet to 20 games, which was also the last time they achieved a top flight win, at home to Chelsea on July 11.
The chances were few and far between despite both teams showing good intensity on the ball in the first half, but the visitors managed to enter Palace’s penalty area in the 29th minute.
However, David McGoldrick was quickly displaced and the hosts seemed more likely with Benteke making his way two minutes later after an impressive play between Zaha and Schlupp.
The latter saw his afternoon end prematurely in the 40th minute when injury forced the scorer and Eze was called up in his place.
A lack of concentration by the substitute almost proved costly four minutes later when Jayden Bogle slipped away to collect Ethan Ampadu’s pass, but Vicente Guaita came to Palace’s rescue with a save at his near post.
Former Derby youth Bogle, who was making his full Premier League debut, was in action on the other end of the field moments later and showed a yellow card from referee Stuart Atwell for a cynical lunge on Zaha.
Five minutes of stoppage time was added at the end of the first half, following Lys Mousset’s treatment at the beginning, and the Eagles took advantage of it by doubling their lead with a goal from the season-long contender.
Substitute Eze picked up James McArthur’s pass deep in his own half and passed Oliver Norwood before doing the same to Ampadu and then produced a measured finish in the bottom corner past Aaron Ramsdale from 20 yards.
“He’s a showman and Selhurst Park is his new theater!” 🎭
Eberechi Eze slides through the Sheffield United defense before finishing with poise. What a goal! 👏
– Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 2, 2021
It was a wonderful solo effort, and yet Hodgson was forced to make another minute change in the second period with the tight winter schedule seemingly catching up with Palace.
Benteke, who only returned to the starting eleven last month, was replaced by Jordan Ayew in the 48th minute after sustaining a muscle injury.
Zaha was the next to receive treatment, but he was fine to continue and Wilder made his first substitution in the 61st minute when Rhian Brewster replaced Mousset.
The Blades coach had only six players on the bench and one was 16-year-old Antwoine Hackford, who made his late debut but was denied consolation by Joel Ward’s blocking.