Jordan Ayew put the visitors ahead with seven minutes remaining, producing a sublime touch to control Patrick van Aanholt’s effort before converting from close range for his first goal for the club. Crystal Palace struck two late goals as Roy Hodgson’s side edged further away from the Premier League relegation zone with victory over Wolves at Molineux.
Luka Milivojevic then made no mistake from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time after Wilfried Zaha was brought down by Ryan Bennett. The visitors dictated the early play and captain Milivojevic’s dipping effort from the edge of the area forced Rui Patricio into a fine save after Willy Boly had been robbed of possession by Andros Townsend.
Raul Jimenez registered Wolves’ first meaningful attempt – firing over from distance – before Matt Doherty missed the best chance of the first half as he headed over when left in space from a corner.
Palace had an escape after the break as Doherty failed to connect with Ivan Cavaleiro’s cross, having caught Aaron Wan Bissaka in possession, while at the other end Ayew failed to hit the target under pressure from Conor Coady.
But Crystal Palace’s late show ensured they move six points clear of Southampton in 18th, while Wolves lost ground on Leicester.
Disciplined Palace find breakthrough
Since Crystal Palace scored three times on their way to shocking Manchester City before Christmas, Hodgson’s side’s attacking shortcomings have again become evident.
A goalless draw with Cardiff preceded a forgettable defeat by Chelsea – and up to the 83rd minute this appeared a familiar tale for the Eagles despite a dominant display.
Hodgson admitted an interest in loaning Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke to address his side’s lack of goals, but a move was ruled out before kick-off over concerns about the 21-year-old’s fitness.
But Ghana forward Ayew picked the perfect time for his first goal since joining from Swansea in the summer, producing a rare moment of quality with his first touch as Palace’s late pressure was rewarded.
Despite a disciplined performance and Milivojevic adding some gloss to the scoreline with 94 minutes played, the fact remains that only two sides have scored fewer goals than the Eagles in this campaign.
Nevertheless, the table does offer some relief to Hodgson after a steady festive period – but a move for a striker in the transfer window still appears crucial if they are to make further progress in 2019.
Another home defeat for Wolves
Wolves were well off the pace against the Eagles as four matches in the space of 12 days appeared to take their toll on Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. A memorable year for the club was fittingly capped by defeating title-hopefuls Tottenham in their final match of 2018, scoring three times in a pulsating final 18 minutes.
Those late heroics masked the fact they failed to create chances in the first half against Spurs and they didn’t ever get going against Palace in what is becoming a theme at home given this was their fifth defeat in seven games at Molineux.
Doherty should have done better when Boly’s misdirected header fell to the Republic of Ireland defender inside the six-yard box, but leading scorer Jimenez saw his opportunities restricted.
In fact, they failed to register a shot on target until substitute Ruben Neves tried to find the bottom corner on 91 minutes and it was the visitors who found an incisive side in the final 10 minutes.
Man of the match – Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace)
‘No excuses’ – what they said
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “I thought we were the team pushing for the goal and when we eventually got it I think we can say we deserved it.
“Jordan worked so hard and it was fitting he could score the goal that has eluded him and us for so long. I’m really pleased with the performance, the discipline and I’m delighted to win a game away from home because it makes the Christmas period quite a good one for us.”
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo: “The first half was very compact, both teams very organised but we didn’t quite get in the game. We have to do better.
“There’s no excuses. We didn’t perform well. Palace had one day less [to prepare] than us – so there’s no excuses.”
Zaha delivers penalties – the stats
- Wolves have lost five of their last seven Premier League home games after remaining unbeaten in their first four at Molineux this season.
- Wolves managed just one shot on target, their joint-lowest tally in a Premier League game this season.
- Crystal Palace have won consecutive away Premier League games within the same season for the first time since April 2017.
- Only Liverpool (12), Chelsea (10) and Tottenham (9) have kept more Premier League clean sheets this season than Palace (8).
- Jordan Ayew claimed his first Premier League goal since scoring for Swansea against Everton in April 2018.
- Since the start of last season, Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has won eight Premier League penalties, two more than any other player.
- 78% of Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic’s Premier League goals have been penalties (14/18) – the highest ratio among players with 15+ goals in the competition.
Crystal Palace host Grimsby Town in the FA Cup on Saturday (17:30 GMT) and Wolves welcome Liverpool to Molineux in the same competition on Monday (19:45).
Source: BBC News