Tyrick Mitchell scored his first professional goal as Crystal Palace came from behind twice to beat Aston Villa and damage their hopes of achieving a Premier League top-half finish.
In an engrossing encounter that belied its ‘dead rubber’ status, both sides contributed energetic displays full of attacking intent, with Palace rewarded for a superb second-half showing.
Trailing 2-1 from the 34th minute, Palace battered at the door after the break until the visitors’ resistance was finally broken at Selhurst Park.
With 15 minutes left, Wilfried Zaha produced a driving run before cutting inside and firing a fierce shot that deflected into the net off Villa defender Ahmed Elmohamady.
Then, with six minutes to go, Mitchell found himself in the perfect spot after a fluffed Eberechi Eze cross to bundle the ball home with his shoulder.
Palace had already come back into the game once, Christian Benteke heading in against his former club following John McGinn’s well-taken opener.
Anwar El Ghazi lashed in at the back post to restore Villa’s lead – a goal that looked like being the winner until Palace’s late rally.
Villa remain 11th, four points behind 10th-placed Leeds with two games to play.
Already safe from relegation, the win took Palace to 44 points – with a chance of hitting the 50-point mark for the first time in the Premier season.
On a more positive note for Villa and potentially England, Jack Grealish made a second successive appearance from the bench following injury to provide further evidence of his improving fitness before this summer’s European Championships.
Mitchell shows the way forward for Palace
Before kick-off, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright by Bob Marley echoed around the ground and the home team did their best to back up such a sentiment on the field.
Sometimes maligned for his style of play, manager Roy Hodgson has comfortably kept Palace in the Premier League during his four seasons at the club, leaning on a core of experienced and reliable players.
With the 73-year-old’s contract due to expire this summer along with those of a host of first-team regulars, a clear-out seems likely, but Sunday’s performance provides further food for thought.
Benteke is one of those whose deal is about to end, although he is arguably in the form of his Palace career, having netted for the third game running and for the fifth time in nine games.
He would have had another but for a superb Emi Martinez save that tipped his header from a corner on to the bar in the second half.
Zaha’s talents are undoubted and Sunday showed he still has the drive and desire, qualities also on display from Andros Townsend, Cheikhou Kouyate and others.
It is perhaps Eze and Mitchell, though, who Palace should be using as the template going forward. Both are young, talented, forward-looking players around which Hodgson – or, more likely, his successor – can build a side.
More to follow.
- 2WardBooked at 73mins
- 8KouyatéBooked at 82mins
- 22McCarthySubstituted forTomkinsat 73′minutes
- 11ZahaBooked at 90mins
- 9J Ayew
- 27El Mohamady
- 30HauseBooked at 86mins
- 6Douglas Luiz
- 41RamseySubstituted forDavisat 85′minutes
- 15TraoréSubstituted forGrealishat 64′minutes
- 7McGinnBooked at 50mins
- 21El GhaziSubstituted forWesleyat 88′minutes
- David Coote
Match ends, Crystal Palace 3, Aston Villa 2.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 3, Aston Villa 2.
Attempt missed. Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Matt Targett with a cross following a set piece situation.
Wesley (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by James Tomkins (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Keinan Davis (Aston Villa) with an attempt from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Matt Targett with a cross.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Foul by Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa).
Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Wesley replaces Anwar El Ghazi.
Foul by Keinan Davis (Aston Villa).
Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Kortney Hause (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Kortney Hause (Aston Villa).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Keinan Davis replaces Jacob Ramsey.
Goal! Crystal Palace 3, Aston Villa 2. Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace) with an attempt from very close range to the bottom right corner.