Monday 23 April 2018

Sako's dream debut has Pardew purring

Crystal Palace 2-1 Aston Villa

Crystal Palace's Dwight Gayle attempts to control the ball ahead of Micah Richards
Crystal Palace's Dwight Gayle attempts to control the ball ahead of Micah Richards
Crystal Palace's Bakary Sako acknowledges the crowd after scoring his side's winning goal
Crystal Palace's Yohan Cabaye and Aston Villa's Rudy Gestede battle for the ball
Crystal Palace's Glenn Murray in action with Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark

Matt McGeehan

Alan Pardew believes Bakary Sako could be a fine acquisition for Crystal Palace after the midfielder scored the winner at Selhurst Park.

Sako was destined for a place on the bench until Yannick Bolasie was granted compassionate leave after the death of his father. And the Mali international scored three minutes from time to give Palace victory with a goal on his debut after signing on a free transfer from Wolves.

"He will be a real asset for us," Pardew said. "He's announced himself in no uncertain manner. Once he got it on to his left foot I was quite confident that he would find the corner because in training he's been hitting that with real venom."

Sako's strike stifled any debate surrounding another controversial offside decision, when Dwight Gayle had a goal ruled out after it ricocheted in off James McArthur.

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, but still assistant referee Peter Kirkup and referee Keith Stroud ruled out the effort.

Villa boss Tim Sherwood thought his substitute had turned the game in his side's favour when Pape Souare diverted Adama Traore's cross into his own net to cancel out Scott Dann's header. Then Jordan Amavi gifted possession for Dann to lay on Sako's winner.

Sherwood said: "What you see is what you get with young players, you saw Traore light it up, he's got no fear. On the flip side you see a young boy and outstanding player in Amavi make the wrong decision at the wrong time to take someone on that late in game, and unfortunately we came away with nothing."

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