Match Reports

Albion 1 Palace 5

6th December
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10-man Albion were beaten 5-1 by Crystal Palace at The Hawthorns on Sunday afternoon.

Darnell Furlong’s own goal gave the away team an early lead before Conor Gallagher’s second strike in as many games quickly drew the Baggies level in an exciting opening 30 minutes.

But Matheus Pereira’s controversial sending off ahead of half time meant Slaven Bilić’s side had to play a large portion of the match a man down.

And they couldn’t contain Palace as Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke’s braces consigned Albion to defeat.

There were two changes to last weekend’s victorious XI, with Matt Phillips and Grady Diangana coming in for Conor Townsend and Callum Robinson.

But it was the visitors who started stronger - Zaha turning skilfully and firing a powerful shot inches over inside the opening three minutes.

And that was a sign of things to come as, shortly after, Palace took the lead - with Zaha again right at the heart of the move.

The Ivorian international was given the ball from a quick free-kick and he spun Pereira before sliding a dangerous cross into the box, which was turned in by the unfortunate Furlong. Complaints of a foul on Pereira were looked at by the video assistant referee, though nothing came of it and Roy Hodgson’s team had an early advantage.

Albion immediately went searching for an equaliser and twice came close to finding it - Pereira smashing a volley straight into the arms of Vicente Guaita and Furlong hammering a header against the crossbar.

Just shy of the half-hour mark, that pressure paid off. A fantastic ball from Semi Ajayi sent Furlong in down the right, and his pull-back was cooly converted by Gallagher to bring the Baggies level.

However as the football gods give with one hand, they take with the other. Within minutes of equalising Albion were reduced to 10-men following a review of an incident by VAR, which very harshly judged Pereira to have kicked out against a Palace player while winning a free-kick.

And, despite it being 1-1 at the interval, the red card changed the game with the hosts finding it hard to contain their opponents in a difficult second half.

Zaha turned from provider to scorer on 55 minutes when he curled the away side back in front, and they soon netted their third of the clash through Benteke as he guided a header home at close-range.

The introduction of fresh legs and a few quick counter attacks couldn’t turn the tide in the Baggies’ favour as they tried to get back in the contest, and with 22 minutes remaining it looked like game over - Zaha converting his second, and Palace’s fourth, of an increasingly gloomy afternoon.

Benteke then completed his brace and rounded off the scoreline as the fixture came to a close at The Hawthorns.

 

ALBION: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Ivanović, Bartley, Phillips; Sawyers (O’Shea 80), Gallagher; Diangana (Krovinović 45), Pereira, Grant (Robinson 62).

Substitutes: Button, Gibbs, Grosicki, Austin.