Debut to remember for Sako as Eagles snatch late winner
Crystal Palace 2 Aston Villa 1
Published 22/08/2015 | 17:19
Bakary Sako struck a late winner on his debut to stifle debate surrounding another controversial offside decision in Crystal Palace's 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa.
Sako, who joined from Wolves in the summer, struck three minutes from time, exploiting a defensive mix-up from Villa to give Palace a deserved win.
The visitors had already benefited from defensive indecision when Pape Souare diverted Adama Traore's cross into his own net to cancel out Scott Dann's header.
Palace had found the net before Dann's opener.
The amended law which the Premier League felt compelled to clarify following Liverpool's defeat of Bournemouth had nothing to do with this week's decision.
Whether James McArthur was offside when Dwight Gayle shot before the ball ricocheted in off the Scot was the talking point and assistant referee Peter Kirkup and referee Keith Stroud belatedly ruled he was and the effort was chalked off.
Alan Pardew has history with Kirkup, as when he was at Newcastle, the Palace boss was fined £20,000 and given a two-match touchline ban for pushing the official in a game against Tottenham three years ago.
Palace prevailed despite being without Yannick Bolasie, who has been linked with a £25million move to Tottenham.
Bolasie was replaced by Glenn Murray, but Palace made it aware it was on compassionate grounds following the death of his father.
Murray's performance only served to show Palace should accept the reported £5million Bournemouth are said to have offered and he was taken off at half-time.
Villa appeared the more menacing in the first half as Wilfried Zaha's game lacked an end product for Palace and he too was hooked at the interval.
Rudy Gestede and Jack Grealish were brought in as two of Villa's three changes and the pair troubled Palace in contrasting ways.
Gestede had the brawn, Grealish the flair, testing Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy with one effort from wide on the left towards the end of the first half.
McCarthy had earlier saved well to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor one-on-one after Grealish had threaded a ball through.
Joel Ward took steps to stop Grealish and was booked for a foul the playmaker, whose shin pads provided little protection.
Zaha next won the ball from Leandro Bacuna and played a one-two with Murray, but the return pass was behind him as he shaped to shoot.
Pardew brought on Gayle and Jordon Mutch, who almost had an immediate impact crossing for Bacary Sako, but Brad Guzan denied him.
Yohan Cabaye was next to fell Grealish before Gayle was denied his goal after much deliberation between the match officials 29 minutes from time.
Palace did take the lead 10 minutes later when Dann met Puncheon's corner, but Villa soon equalised.
Former Barcelona forward Traore breezed down the right, inside Puncheon and his cross deflected in off Souare, with McCarthy wrong-footed and helpless.
Next Guzan and his left-back, Jordan Amavi, contrived to present Palace with a chance and Dann won the ball before Sako finished emphatically to earn Palace victory.