Christian Benteke’s wonderful volley earned Crystal Palace a sensational late 2-1 win over rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.
Benteke struck Andros Townsend’s cross into the bottom corner five minutes into added-time.
It came after Palace had withstood pressure for so long. Jean-Philippe Mateta’s first goal for the South Londoners gave them the lead against the run of play before Joel Veltman equalised.
Palace’s two goals came from their only shots on target and touches inside Brighton’s penalty area. They had just three attempts to Brighton’s 25. This was a smash and grab victory – not that Palace will care in the slightest.
Mateta scored with a backheel to finish a rare Palace attack midway through the first half. A defensive lapse allowed Joel Veltman to equalise 10 minutes into the second period.
Palace spent the majority of the game coping with pressure from the hosts. Brighton caused particular trouble down the Eagles’ left side – where Tyrick Mitchell had replaced Patrick van Aanholt from the 3-0 defeat against Burnley.
Leandro Trossard volleyed wide from a tight angle. The Seagulls were largely reduced to long-range strikes in the first half.
It was against the run of play that Palace opened the scoring. Cheikhou Kouyate passed into the right-hand channel for Jordan Ayew to chase. The Ghanaian tore beyond Dan Burn and darted for the byline.
Ayew crossed low towards the near post and Mateta swivelled before backheeling the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
Graham Potter’s side were much better in the second half. Their passing was quicker and moved Palace’s shape around the pitch – creating gaps for their attacking players to exploit. They equalised when Mitchell’s poor clearance was pounced upon by Veltman – who had not been tracked by Townsend – and lashed beyond Vicente Guaita.
When Guaita made a triple save to prevent the hosts turning the game around, there was a sense that this game was being turned on its head.
But as the clock ticked into the final minute of added-time, Townsend floated a cross into the Brighton penalty area. Benteke, on a substitute for Mateta, watched the ball drop onto his right foot and swung an effort goalwards from 12 yards. Sanchez watched helplessly as it nestled into the bottom corner of his goal.
This was a much-needed win for Palace, not only because it was against their bitter rivals but because they had lost four of their previous six before this game. They now move onto 32 points – their most after 25 games in a Premier League season.
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