Sport Soccer

Thursday 22 February 2018

Christian Benteke delighted to get minutes under his belt

Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke got some much-needed action
Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke got some much-needed action

Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke has revealed his satisfaction at completing a full 90 minutes for the first time since May.

The striker, who last week became the club's record signing when arriving for £27million from Liverpool, showed promise throughout Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw with Bournemouth.

He had played the opening 45 minutes of Tuesday's 2-0 EFL Cup defeat of Blackpool, and at Selhurst Park on Saturday demonstrated why Alan Pardew had been so keen to recruit him.

Unlike with Connor Wickham, Palace had a convincing focal point who convincingly retained possession in the final third.

When he recovers his sharpness after being overlooked by Liverpool for much of the past season, Belgium for most of Euro 2016, and for Liverpool's pre-season, he will likely have a greater influence.

He was given a rare appearance for the Reds on May 15 against West Brom while Jurgen Klopp rested his first team in preparation for the Europa League final against Sevilla. Since then his match fitness has suffered, but he told Palace's official club website: "I had the chance to play 90 minutes and I felt a little bit tired at the end, but I'm now closer to my best, so I'm really happy.

"Of course I could have done better, but it was my first full game in a long time, so I was just getting back in shape. We took one point and that's better than losing.

"It was unbelievable, the atmosphere. Especially in the second half, (the crowd) pushed us on and we can be thankful to them, they helped us to score the crucial goal."

Bournemouth resisted intense pressure from Palace throughout the second half until Scott Dann's headed goal in the third minute of stoppage time secured the draw they deserved.

Beyond substitute Wilfried Zaha consistently beating their left-back Charlie Daniels, Eddie Howe's team defended as impressively as goalkeeper Artur Boruc performed, to the manager's pleasure.

"There's been a lot of question marks about our defensive play at times," said Howe, a retired central defender.

"But I thought the centre-backs - supported by everybody else in the team - the goalkeeper, really did put a good display in for the majority of the game."

Press Association

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