Crystal PalaceSport

Michael Olise finally provides Crystal Palace with a clinical touch as they finally get post-World Cup lift


It was always going to take a moment of magic to beat David de Gea on Wednesday night at Selhurst Park.

There had been a somewhat familiar feeling about Crystal Palace’s display until Michael Olise cast his wand over a dead-ball situation in second-half added time, 25 yards out from goal.

The Eagles had created chances, played on the front foot and gone close to ending their run of four games on the bounce without scoring from open play but once again the killer pass or instinctive shot escaped them.

A handful of performances since the World Cup break ended and Premier League football resumed had left a lot to be desired.

The 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Fulham was sobering, with the clear holes in the squad evident for all to see.

Followed up by a 4-0 clinical masterclass from Tottenham Hotspur, it meant that not only had Palace conceded seven in the space of two games at Selhurst Park, but they were playing as though they were the visitors in their own home.

A 1-0 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, their fourth defeat from their last five outings in the league, prompted Patrick Vieira to change the line-up, which had become predictable of late. He handed starts to Jean-Philippe Mateta, Odsonne Edouard and Will Hughes – the Eagles started the game with real intensity, almost as if the chance for fresh faces to impress had created a healthy bit of squad competition.

Their bright first 45 was almost rewarded before half-time.

De Gea somehow got his fingertips to the ball and nudged Edouard’s goalbound effort on to the crossbar.

There is one consistent feature about Vieira’s Palace side. Every time they look on top in a game and have come close to establishing a lead, they produce a momentary lapse in concentration at the back and throw away all their hard work.

Bruno Fernandes duly punished Palace just before the break. Cheick Doucoure failed to track the run of Christian Eriksen, who found the Portuguese midfielder with enough space inside the penalty area to build a new high-rise block of flats in Croydon.

The United captain rifled an effort beyond Vicente Guaita.

Palace’s closest effort before Olise’s leveller fell to Marc Guehi, who met Olise’s corner with a powerful header but De Gea punched away.

It felt as though it was going to be one of those nights that has become very common under French World Cup winner Vieira.

All the build-up play and style of football saw Palace take the game to the title hopefuls, but where was the clinical touch that was going to take the roof off Selhurst Park?

Step forward Michael Olise in the 91st minute.

The former Reading man perhaps has not kicked on this season like many would have predicted after his first Premier League campaign, but his free-kick from 30 yards out on Wednesday evening was indicative of a 21-year-old who can do what he likes in the game.

Olise had enough power and dip in his shot to see the ball swirl in the frosty South London night sky and fly into the only crevice of the net De Gea could not get to. It was simply sensational.

Palace deserved their point against a side that had won their previous five top-flight outings on the bounce. They could have wrapped up all three late on if Aaron Wan-Bissaka had not produced his trademark slide tackle inside the area as Wilfried Zaha closed in on goal.

Chris Richards seriously impressed on his first Premier League start for the Eagles. The rest of the defence – Tyrick Mitchell, Marc Guehi and Nathaniel Clyne – were also outstanding.

Will Hughes brought a tenacious bite to the middle of the park. But the attack once again failed to find a remedy to their goalscoring problems. It is now more than 540 minutes since the Eagles scored a goal in open play in the Premier League.

Chris Richards. Looked extremely comfortable at Premier League level.

Olise’s free-kick. Stunning.


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