BY SAM SMITH AND ANDREW MCSTEEN
Christian Benteke sent a reminder of his ability after scoring the added-time winner against Brighton, the Crystal Palace striker feels.
The Belgian has had a tough spell in South London, scoring 27 times in 134 appearances. But the 30-year-old’s stunning volley from Andros Townsend’s cross presented one of the most memorable moments of the Eagles’ Premier League spell.
It sealed a second-successive victory at rivals Brighton. Jean-Philippe Mateta’s first Palace goal had put Roy Hodgson’s side ahead before Joel Veltman equalised.
“It is always nice to remind people, I have never doubted myself and that is the most important thing,” Benteke said.
“I am always ready. The Premier League is the best in the world and you can’t put a player on the side, I will say. Every 90 minutes, the game will change so you can’t give up like that.
“That is what I have been doing since I was here, even though I have been through a hard time I was always there and I will always be there.
“I think the recent games we played we were exposed and we conceded a lot of silly goals. Last night the plan was to be compact and to play as a team.”
Benteke was a 75th-minute substitute for January signing Mateta. He said he has been excited by the Frenchman’s arrival from Mainz, and that he respects manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to use him in reserve.
Mateta opened the scoring with a wonderful backheeled finish from Jordan Ayew’s cross.
“He (Mateta) scored a great goal but I think the club brought him because he has got qualities, he can finish. It was great for him to have the chance to start and have a goal in this derby.
“[Hodgson] knows that no matter what happens I am a professional. I never cause any harm in the team, I have always been there and working hard, being patient.
“He knows we have respect for each other and that is how it should be. He is the gaffer, the boss, and we have to respect his decision.
“I never set a target, I just want to score as many as I can. I take it game by game because everything can change really quick. I want to score every game and that is what I want to do whenever I’m on the pitch.”
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