Read a full match report of the Premier League contest between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on Saturday, 12 April 2014
“Glad all over” sang the fans of Crystal Palace with gusto as their team all but secured another season of Premier League football with a vital win over Aston Villa, who face a nervous end to the season.
Jason Puncheon scored the all-important goal in the 76th minute to send Palace seven points clear of the relegation zone, while Villa drop to 15th place and only four-point gap between them and safety.
It was another remarkable result for Palace and their manager Tony Pulis.
The game was barely 15 minutes old when Howard Webb asked for the ball to be changed, but neither side could use that as an excuse for the numerous misplaced passes in a dire opening period.
Cameron Jerome cleared a week Ciaran Clark header off the Palace goal-line nd Grant Holt headed wide, but it was Palace who had the better chances. Yannick Bolasie was given a clear sight of goal by a cleverly-worked free kick, but mis-hit his shot claiming Holt impeded him. Webb was having none of it. The referee continued to upset the home fans, turning down further penalty appeals for handball and a trip before half-time.
But the big talking point came in the 67th minute. Bolasie, so dangerous on the left wing, switched briefly to the right and fired in a low cross. Clark dived to intercept, getting his chest to the ball and diverting it back to the hands of Brad Guzan. Webb pointed to the penalty spot, his assistant shook his head animatedly, and Villa's players urged the two to consult. Webb changed his mind, awarded Villa a free kick and Palace fans roared with anger.
Chances came and went for both sides, although Palace had the better of them. Jerome hit the bar with a half-volley from close range after a Bolasie shot was palmed into the air by Guzan, and the Palace winger shaved the outside of the far post with a fizzing shot from 25 yards.
Palace finally, and deservedly, broke through in the 76th minute. Bolasie was the architect once again, crossing from the left. Puncheon still had a lot to do, receiving the ball with his back to goal. He held off Ryan Bertrand, turned and got in a left-footed shot that hit the inside of the far post before crossing the line. Palace's raucous supporters erupted in joy, Villa's were downcast.
They strained desperately for an equaliser, with Matthew Lowton volleying wide and then Julián Speroni making a brilliant low save to deny a flicked shot from Villa substitute Andreas Weimann.