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Wilfried Zaha scores twice as Crystal Palace bounce back to beat Aston Villa

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa – Premier League – Selhurst Park
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

Wilfried Zaha underlined his importance to Crystal Palace with a crucial double as his side picked up a first Premier League win of the season by battling back to beat Aston Villa 3-1.

The influential forward swiftly cancelled out Ollie Watkins’ early opener at Selhurst Park before converting on the rebound after his second-half penalty was saved by Emiliano Martinez.

Substitute Jean-Philippe Mateta grabbed the Eagles’ clinching goal with his first touch, with Zaha again involved.

Star man Zaha, who claimed the opener in Monday’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool, has now scored in each of the Eagles’ last seven top-flight victories and was afforded a standing ovation when he was brought off late on.

Patrick Vieira’s hosts also had a Jeffrey Schlupp goal disallowed for offside during a dominant performance.

Villa faded fast from the rapid start and, although they hit the crossbar through Leon Bailey at 1-1, manager Steven Gerrard leaves south London with plenty to ponder.

Buoyed by an impressive display against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, Palace were back on home soil and seeking to kick-start their season from a points perspective.

Yet the defensive solidity on show at Anfield was temporarily replaced by disarray during a costly lapse inside five minutes.

Tyrone Mings’ searching pass forward was helped on by the head of Bailey, easily splitting the Eagles’ backline and giving England striker Watkins time and space to confidently dispatch the ball beyond Vicente Guaita.

With two managers renowned for robust tackling during their illustrious playing days patrolling the touchline, alarming defensive frailties were again punished just two minutes later as the hosts levelled.

Villa defender Ezri Konsa was left exposed on this occasion, allowing Zaha to race forward and angle a precise left-footed finish into the bottom right corner from just inside the 18-yard area.

Palace’s recovery from the early setback was laudable and home supporters thought they had completed the turnaround in the 25th minute.

Schlupp emphatically fired home following a free-kick into the box but the strike was disallowed after VAR intervened due to Odsonne Edouard being marginally offside before providing the assist.

Villa keeper Martinez later got down well to deny the unmarked Jordan Ayew, before Emiliano Buendia – preferred to Philippe Coutinho following his winner against Everton – was denied by Guaita in similar circumstances at the other end.

Gerrard’s men almost regained the advantage just after the restart but Bailey’s fine curling effort came back off the goal frame.

While Villa’s travelling fans jubilantly sang the praises of VAR in the first half, they were soon lamenting its use as Palace benefited to go ahead.

Referee Andy Madley pointed to the spot after reviewing footage of Marc Guehi’s goal-bound header brushing the outstretched arm of Lucas Digne and Zaha slotted into the unguarded net at the second time of asking after Martinez repelled his initial effort.

The Palace faithful were then aggrieved when Villa captain John McGinn escaped a second booking for hauling down Zaha.

The Scotland international was substituted in order to avoid a red card but not before Palace replacement Mateta killed off hopes of a fightback by stretching the home side’s advantage.

Tyrick Mitchell played a neat one-two with Zaha on the left before delivering an inviting cross for the stretching Mateta, who had just replaced Edouard, to thump volley home from close range.

Frenchman Mateta squandered another chance to make the scoreline more emphatic but it mattered little as Vieira deservedly secured bragging rights over fellow midfield great Gerrard.

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