Tuesday 23 January 2018

Alan Pardew 'really pleased' with Christian Benteke's start

Christian Benteke has made a good start at Crystal Palace
Christian Benteke has made a good start at Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew is delighted to see Christian Benteke repaying the faith shown in him - as he expected the striker would.

After a disappointing season last term with Liverpool during which he was very much in and out of the team, Benteke became Palace's club-record signing in August when he joined them for an initial £27million plus add-ons.

He has started five straight Premier League games since then and his goal in Friday's 1-1 draw at Everton - a superb equalising header - made it two in his last two appearances and three overall for his new club.

Pardew said of the 25-year-old Belgium international: "He was our number one target all summer, we stuck on it, and I kept pushing Steve (Parish, the Palace chairman).

"He ummed and ahhed about it, and there were a few phonecalls to our American owners and questions.

"But of course he is repaying that - because he's a quality player.

"I do think he was a bit unlucky at Liverpool to not have a run of games. He is a player I think needs that.

"Big guys like him, Andy Carroll and Rickie Lambert (who Pardew has managed previously), were the same. It's difficult for big guys to come in and out.

"We're really pleased with him. And I don't think he has been on the losing side for us yet (in the Premier League), which goes to show the level he is at.

"He is a handful. If we can get quality balls in, we know he is going to score."

Benteke's leveller in the 50th minute - followed soon after by a goal from his team-mate Damien Delaney that was contentiously disallowed for offside - cancelled out Romelu Lukaku's 35th-minute opener.

There was a degree of controversy around the first goal, with debate over whether the free-kick it stemmed from should have been awarded and if it should have been indirect.

Lukaku stepped up and swept the ball straight in, taking his club tally for the season to five goals.

Scoring directly from a free-kick is a rarity for the 23-year-old frontman, who is Benteke's international colleague.

But when asked if he had been working with Lukaku on free-kicks, Everton boss Ronald Koeman said: "Not especially - we just have some players who can take good ones.

"Of course, we give attention to set plays offensively.

"It was a great goal because it is not easy. Over the wall and inside the goal - it is a great free-kick."

Ahead of the weekend's action, Friday's result saw Palace stay seventh while Everton moved up from fifth to third.

The Toffees have 14 points from their opening seven games, with last Saturday's reverse at Bournemouth their only league defeat so far under new boss Koeman.

And the Dutchman said: "All the points, all the victories - as well, the defeat of last week - was deserved. Overall I think it is positive.

"Of course we need to improve, we need to be better. But the start of the season so far in my opinion is very positive."

Press Association

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