For a party shrouded in uncertainty, there is no lack of battle in the Crystal Palace players.
Six of Palace’s starting line-ups have contracts that expire at the end of this season, from Christian Benteke to Andros Townsend to Gary Cahill. Another four on the substitutes’ bench are in the same position, as is manager Roy Hodgson.
And yet, Palace came back from 2-1 at half-time to secure a satisfying 3-2 win for Hodgson. They got through Aston Villa’s goal with 23 shots – their biggest total this season – and can welcome supporters to Selhurst Park on Wednesday after a win.
Tyrick Mitchell became Palace’s youngest goalscorer since Clinton Morrison to win the match
Wilfried Zaha pulled his team back into the game by making it 2-2 in the second half
Zaha cut inside and saw his failed attempt hit the back of the net in Selhurst Park
The effort pinged off the bodies and took one last massive turn from El Ghazi before entering
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Butland 6; Ward 5.5, Kouyate 6, Cahill 6, Mitchell 6; Eze 7, McCarthy 6 (Tomkins 73, 6), Schlupp 6; Townsend 6.5, Benteke 7.5, Zaha 7
Subs (not used): Hennessey, Guaita, Dann, Ayew, Mateta, Batshuayi, Kelly, Riedewald
Scorers: Benteke (32), Zaha (75), Mitchell (84)
Booked: Ward, Kouyate, Zaha
Manager: Roy Hodgson 7
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Martinez 5.5; Elmohamady 5.5, Konsa 5.5, Hause 5.5, Targett 5.5; McGinn 6, Luiz 6; Traore 6 (Grealish 64,6), Ramsey 6 (Davis 85), El Ghazi 6.5 (Wesley 88); Watkins 7
Subs (not used): Steer, Taylor, Nakamba, Barkley, English, Chukwuemeka
Scorers: McGinn (17), El Ghazi (34)
Booked: McGinn, Hause
Manager: Dean Smith 6
Referee: David Coote 6
In that game against Arsenal, 73-year-old Hodgson, along with a few players, can say goodbye to the fan base. “We want to show them that it has been a very good season for the football club and that there are many good times to come,” Hodgson said afterwards.
Wilfried Zaha scored the tying run in Palace’s second half. He is under contract until 2023, but would like to know which direction the club is heading. Tyrick Mitchell, the 21-year-old left back, fell in the winner in the 84th minute.
“Tyrick got a round of applause as he walked into the locker room,” Hodgson said. His performance was excellent in every way. We let Aaron Wan-Bissaka break through and do well for us and now we have Tyrick. ‘
Villa got off to a super start, despite not having Tyrone Mings on the squad and Jack Grealish on the substitutes’ bench. Their best shot fell on Ollie Watkins, who thrust into Jack Butland’s palms with a rising shot, while Kortney Hause came close with back-to-back headers.
So the opening goal, scored in the 17th minute, was coming. Ahmed El Mohamady crossed and Cahill’s head thumped in John McGinn’s path. Villa’s midfielder opened his body and found the far corner with a plush finish that went in from the post.
Palace made it 1-1 after 32 minutes. Zaha’s shot was blocked and Mitchell took possession of the left wing. He floated in an inviting cross with Benteke peeling off his marker to reach the tying run.
It was vintage Benteke, who now has six goals in his last 10 games for club and country, but Villa reacted immediately. Another cross was headed in the air by Cheikhou Kouyate and when it landed, Watkins nodded the ball towards the back post.
Anwar El Ghazi is celebrating after helping Villa respond immediately to admit by making it 2-1
The winger was harassed by his teammates after arriving close to South London
Moments earlier, Christian Benteke rose highest to lead Palace back into the game
The Belgian made a huge leap and watched the ball settle into the back of the net
Benteke is back in shape for the Eagles and celebrated by pointing to the sky above
There, an unmarked Anwar El Ghazi waited to make it 2-1. Palace players looked at each other in surprise. Right back Joel Ward was the culprit who left El Ghazi alone.
For the hour, a combination of Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and the crossbar Benteke denied a brace from a corner. With Palace advancing, Villa Grealish introduced in the 64th minute, hoping he could perhaps confirm victory.
When asked about the England international afterwards, Dean Smith said: ‘Will he be suitable for the euro? Yes, but I do not choose the selection. ‘
Captain John McGinn had broken the deadlock after defeating Jack Butland from a distance
The midfielder curled his foot through the ball to unleash a low, driven effort
Butland could only watch in vain as the ball split the post and went into the bottom corner
Veteran Gary Cahill had to be treated in the first half after getting a pulse
Palace equalized in the 76th minute, thanks to Zaha. He drifted in from the left wing and defeated Martinez with a nifty deflection on El Mohamady.
Eberechi Eze thought he had scored the winner in the 82nd minute, but his 25-meter attempt crashed back off the crossbar. Don’t worry, because Eze had an assist a little later. His scraped shot bounced invitingly to Mitchell, who improvised by throwing the ball into goal.
Villa is down 19 points from winning positions in 2021 – the bulk of all teams in England’s top four divisions, along with Walsall and Wigan. That’s a worrying statistic for Smith and one that shows they have work to do. Just like Palace at the negotiating table.
Relive all the action below with Sportsmail’s DANNY GALLAGHER who gave full coverage of Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa at Selhurst.