Crystal Palace 3-2 Wolves: Goals from Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze see the Eagles squeeze past Gary O’Neil’s spirited side at Selhurst Park
The match selectors at Sky Sports may not have any nails left, but all is well that ends well.
Social media was in uproar that Liverpool and Aston Villa had been snubbed by the broadcaster for this supposedly less sexy tussle at Selhurst Park. Though it threatened to become the first 0-0 of this Premier League this season as we neared the hour mark without a goal, those who tuned in were treated to a breathless final half hour.
Five goals in total, three for Crystal Palace, two for Wolves, and a performance from Roy Hodgson’s team which suggested they have the tools required to score goals this season.
Hodgson did not sign a replacement for Wilfried Zaha in the summer window, but Odsonne Edouard scored twice in this win. Eberechi Eze got his first goal of the season. Jean-Philippe Mateta picked up two assists as a substitute.
We all thought they would sign an attacker in the summer. They did not, instead bringing in goalkeeper Dean Henderson and defender Rob Holding towards the end of the window.
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Johnstone ; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Doucoure, Lerma; Ayew, Eze Schlupp (Mateta); Edouard
Subs: Tomkins, Mateta, Clyne, Hughes, Richards, Ahamada, Henderson, Riedewald, Rak-Sakyi
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Wolves (4-4-1-1): Sa; Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Ait-Nouri; Sarabia (Hwang) , Gomes, Lemina, Neto; Cunha; Silva
Subs: Doherty, Traore, Hwang, Bueno, Kalajdzic, Gomes, Bentley, Medina, Fraser
Bookings: Semedo, Ait-Nouri, Gomes
Manager: Gary O’Neil
Referee: Robert Jones
Player of the Match: Edouard
Yet their strikers showed what they can do here, while Eze was his usual electric self.
In the 13th minute, Eze skinned three Wolves men as he waltzed into the penalty area. When he beat a fourth man in Joao Gomes, he dropped down.
At first, it looked like Eze had made a meal of the challenge. However, footage showed Gomes did stand on his foot. VAR Stuart Attwell watched replay after replay until he concluded there was not enough in it for a pitch-side review by referee Robert Jones.
Palace should have scored the game’s opening goal in the 16th minute. Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa’s attempt at passing out from the back was criminal. The ball was intercepted by Jefferson Lerma, who squared to Jordan Ayew. With the goal at his mercy, Ayew’s tame finish gave Wolves captain Maximilian Kilman the chance to get back and clear off the line.
Edouard then sliced the rebound from Kilman’s clearance into the stands. You had to wonder what Mateta, who scored a midweek hat-trick against Plymouth in the Carabao Cup, was thinking while sat among the substitutes.
Likewise, Sasa Kalajdzic, the 6ft 7in striker who scored Wolves’ winner against Everton, must have wished he was on the field. The visitors had kept more possession than Palace but their game plan often saw them resort to a hopeful cross into the box. Yet Kalajdzic was sat on the bench, bumping his head off the roof of the dugout, instead of leaping in the box.
Before the break, Pedro Neto tried a series of step overs before forcing Sam Johnstone into tipping over. Goalless at half time, Palace’s players walked in knowing they had seen the greater chances to score, if only one of their forwards could apply the finishing touch.
Finally, in the 56th minute, they got that. Tyrick Mitchell whipped in an excellent cross and Edouard toed the ball into the goal, Kilman having lost his man at the front post. Selhurst Park erupted as their team took a 1-0 lead.
Yet their celebrations did not last long. Less than 10 minutes later, it was 1-1. Hwang Hee-Chan had only just come on to the field yet he met Neto’s free-kick from the left wing, sending his header beyond Johnstone and into the net.
That is 10 Premier League goals for Hwang in a Wolves shirt now, five of which have come as a substitute. Norman Bell, that famous super sub, would approve.
Palace went in search of a late winner. Sa was needed to deny Ayew’s volley and then Eze’s rocket of a free-kick from 30 yards. Wolves’ goalkeeper was doing well.
Yet when Joel Ward’s long pass was helped on by Mateta, Eze broke through. Under pressure from markers, he poked the ball into the goal for 2-1 after 78 minutes.
In the 84th minute, it was 3-1. Lovely build-up play by Palace saw Mateta backheel the ball into Edouard, who found the bottom corner.
In the sixth minute of stoppage time, it became 3-2 as Matheus Cunha headed home Neto’s cross. It was too little, too late for a comeback.