Ten-man Crystal Palace rose to fifth place in the Premier League table following a tenacious victory against Bournemouth at Selhurst Park last night.
Jeffrey Schlupp’s strike, his second in as many games, sent a patient Selhurst into ecstasy midway through the second half. Picking up the ball a fraction outside the final third, he drove past a weary Bournemouth midfield, effortlessly weaved through a couple of defenders and drilled the ball past a despairing Aaron Ramsdale.
Mamadou Sakho’s red card after 19 minutes threatened to irreversibly swing the pendulum in Bournemouth’s favour, with the away team dominating possession thereafter. Sakho’s desperate lunge was high and rash, and although Anthony Taylor’s decision was treated to a chorus of boos, Hodgson’s grimace told the tale.
The home side were treated to another blow when Patrick Van Aanholt pulled up lame with a hamstring injury.
Despite laying siege to the Palace goal, Bournemouth failed to decisively penetrate a dogged and disciplined defensive performance from the home side, who were evidently emboldened by a backs-against-the-wall scenario.
“It was a great victory”, said a buoyant Roy Hodgson. “I’m full of praise for what the players did today. Normally when you win 1-0 with 10 men you think you were lucky, but that wasn’t really the case”.
Palace’s threat on the counterattack became increasingly relevant as the game developed; Wilfred Zaha and Jordan Ayew were a constant outlet to relieve pressure, with the former unfortunate not to receive a penalty after clashing with Chris Mepham early in the second half.
James McArthur could have bagged Palace a second late on; controlling the ball 25-yards from goal, McArthur’s curving effort left the crowd on tenterhooks as it looked destined for the top corner, only to be denied by Ramsdale’s fingertips.
Bournemouth have now lost four on the bounce, and as the old proverb goes, when it rains it pours; up next for Eddie Howe’s men, Liverpool and Chelsea.
“We needed to get something from tonight’s game and we are hugely disappointed we haven’t”, said a sombre Howe. “We didn’t do enough on the ball, we didn’t hurt them enough, credit to them on how they defended. With that extra man, we needed more pressure, we needed more shots, we needed more goal-mouth action. It was tough to watch.”
This Saturday, Palace make the short journey north to face twentieth-place Watford.