Bolasie and Cabaye put Palace past Baggies and into top four
Yohan Cabaye inspired Crystal Palace with a goal and an assist for Yannick Bolasie in a 2-0 win that ended West Bromwich Albion’s unbeaten away record, meaning former manager Tony Pulis had a losing return to Selhurst Park.
Victory on Saturday lunchtime moved the south London club into the Premier League‘s top four and, for the time being, level on points with title favourites Manchester City.
Eagles boss Alan Pardew made two changes to his winning team from the trip to Watford last time out, with Wilfried Zaha and James McArthur replacing Bakary Sako and Joe Ledley, who both dropped to the bench.
Visiting coach Pulis reverted back to the same Baggies starting XI from their previous away outing at Villa Park, with veteran Gareth McAuley joining fellow Northern Ireland internationals Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt in defence. Jose Salomon Rondon also proved his fitness to once again lead Albion’s attack, but the Venezuelan was a peripheral figure.
Palace looked to stretch their opponents early on, with winger Zaha set away on the break only for a poor near post finish wide of the mark. West Brom’s threat was sporadic in response with James McClean lashing over before being booked after 15 minutes for a late forward’s tackle on Pape Souare, who also received a first-half caution.
With the Baggies set up so defensively, the hosting Eagles were afforded a rare luxury of possession football, but they still sought to use counter-attacking attributes which has seen them win nine of a dozen away league games under Pardew.
Albion lost summer signing Evans with a quarter of the game gone with a hamstring problem, so fellow Manchester United alumnus James Chester came on. West Brom’s injury issues continued when a clash between Brunt and Zaha resulted in the Northern Irishman getting a bloody nose.
Cabaye’s volley on half an hour stung the palms of Boaz Myhill, who also had to be on hand twice to deny home menace Zaha with parrying stops on his near post. The Ivorian-born England cap proved a real thorn for the Baggies with Brunt’s off the ball barge left unpunished by referee Jon Moss.
Pulis hauled Saido Berahino off at half-time with Craig Gardner introduced in a bid to stop Palace running roughshod. Cabaye saw an effort from a corner blocked by McAuley as the pattern of play established in the first 45 continued after the interval.
West Brom had no out-ball as wave after wave of Palace pressure came incessantly against their back four. They eventually folded with a quarter of the game to go, as Cabaye’s stood-up centre to the back post was met by Bolasie, who headed home a first Selhurst goal for almost three years.
The Eagles ensured they ended Albion’s unbeaten run on the road when Brunt brought down Zaha in the box with a poor attempt to win the ball. Official Moss pointed to the spot two minutes from time and, for the second match running, Cabaye converted the penalty.
Pardew will once again be touted as a future England boss, while Zaha’s contribution to the Palace cause should not go unnoticed. The Eagles are really soaring right now.