BY SAM SMITH
An excellent start and half-time tactical tweaks sparked a rampaging attacking performance by Crystal Palace against West Brom, Christian Benteke has revealed.
It was a display vastly improved on recent matches against Burnley and Newcastle United – both of which the Eagles lost without scoring.
Benteke and Wilfried Zaha each struck braces in the second period to complete a 5-1 win against the Baggies. Zaha had forced a Darnell Furlong own goal in the first half before Palace’s summer transfer target Conor Gallagher equalised for Slaven Bilic’s side.
The hosts had Matheus Pereira sent off slightly prior to half-time, and Benteke said that the Eagles made half-time plans to take advantage of their numerical superiority in the second half.
“The differences [from previous performances] were that we really started on the front-foot, we really put pressure on them and we forced them into an error with the first goal,” Benteke reflected.
“Then they came back into the game with their goal. But during half-time in the dressing room, we were confident with them being a man down that we should be patient, we should move the ball quicker and knew we would create chances.
“We said at half-time that we have to move the ball quicker. We said we have to bring players like [Jeffrey] Schlupp and [Eberechi] Eze into the pockets to make sure we bring numbers forward. With the way we said we would move the ball, we knew we would create chances and that’s what we did.”
Benteke’s goals were his first since he netted in a 3-2 defeat against Chelsea in July. The forward, who has been plagued by injuries and a loss of form over the last few years, had lost his place in the regular starting 11 following a red card against previous club Aston Villa late last season.
But positive cameos from the bench in recent months earned him a first start in the Midlands. His strike partnership with Zaha at West was fruitful and the pair combined well to dismantle the hosts.
The 30-year-old enjoyed marking his first start and goals of the campaign alongside Zaha.
He added: “Wilf is one of the best players in the Premier League and showed again how huge he is for this team and this club.
“It’s a pleasure to play with Wilf because he brings a lot of different aspects of his game. He can create chances, he can pass, he can do everything, so we are really pleased to have him in this team.
“I’m really pleased with the brace, I’m delighted. The most important thing is the three points but I am delighted with my two goals.”
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