Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace - Story of the match

Crystal Palace players celebrate the winner at Middlesbrough
Crystal Palace players celebrate the winner at Middlesbrough

Wilfried Zaha's opportunist strike handed Crystal Palace a first Premier League win of the season as Middlesbrough's unbeaten start came to a disappointing end.

Zaha capitalised on a dreadful error by Boro full-back George Friend two minutes into the second half to clinch a deserved victory - just a third in 23 league games in 2016 for manager Alan Pardew - in front of a crowd of 30,551 at the Riverside Stadium.

Christian Benteke had earlier paid off the first instalment of his £27.5million transfer fee by heading the visitors into a 16th-minute lead, his opening goal for the club, and although Boro defender Daniel Ayala levelled seven minutes before the break, Pardew's men were not to be denied despite two late penalty claims.


"Benteke opens his account for @CPFC with an imperious header" - ex-England striker Gary Lineker (‏@GaryLineker).


Wilfried Zaha was a threat throughout and capped an impressive individual display with the decisive goal having already set up Christian Benteke for the opener.


Benteke may score many goals for Crystal Palace, but his first one was the model of simplicity. Zaha's cross was perfectly-weighted for him to climb high above Daniel Ayala at the far post and power home a regulation header.


George Friend has been one of Middlesbrough's most reliable players in recent seasons, but he had an afternoon to forget. Having been put under intense pressure by Zaha before the break, he cracked two minutes after it, sending a woefully under-hit back-pass towards keeper Viktor Valdes which the winger picked off to score what proved to be the winning goal.



Victor Valdes 6

Antonio Barragan 6

Daniel Ayala 6

George Friend (Capt) 4

Ben Gibson 6

Adam Clayton 6

Adam Forshaw 7

Cristhian Stuani 5

Stewart Downing 7

Viktor Fischer 6

Alvaro Negredo 6


Marten de Roon (for Clayton, 57 mins) 6

Gaston Ramirez (for Fischer, 57 mins) 6

Adam Traore (for Stuani, 81 mins) - 6


Steve Mandanda 6

Joel Ward 6

Scott Dann (Capt) 7

Damien Delaney 7

Martin Kelly 6

Joe Ledley 7

James McArthur 7

Andros Townsend 7

Jason Puncheon 7

Wilfried Zaha 8

Christian Benteke 7


Lee Chung-yong 6

Mathieu Flamini (for Ledley, 83 mins) 6

Jonathan Benteke (for Christian Benteke, 83 mins) 6


Everton v Middlesbrough (Premier League, Saturday, September 17)

Crystal Palace v Stoke (Premier League, Sunderland, September 18)

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