BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace maintained their unbeaten start to pre-season by soaring to a 4-0 victory over Championship side Reading.
A Wilfried Zaha double – the second a sublime strike – and goals from Alexander Sorloth and James Tomkins gave Roy Hodgson’s side an excellent win
The Eagles started brightly, Sorloth had the ball in the net within three minutes but was denied by the assistant referee’s flag. Andros Townsend then cut inside but his effort was straight at Vito Mannone.
An entertaining, end-to-end opening 30 minutes kept both defences busy. Wayne Hennessey – starting in goal once again ahead of new signing Vicente Guaita – was forced to cut out a dangerous left-wing cross.
Former Palace loanee Paul McShane then did well to deny Zaha a tap-in after James McArthur had advanced beyond Chris Gunter and crossed towards the Ivorian.
But Palace continued to threaten and eventually led on 34 minutes through Sorloth. Patrick van Aanholt and Zaha exchanged passes before the latter drove to the byline, and his low cross was hammered home by the big Norwegian.
The January signing should have had a second slightly prior to half-time. Zaha teed him up again but the former Midjtylland forward miscued and his effort dribbled across goal and out for a throw in.
It took just three minutes into the second period for Zaha to grab Palace’s second on 48 minutes. Van Aanholt did excellently to advance to the byline and his inviting delivery was swept home clinically by the man the Eagles are so desperate to hold onto.
Mamadou Sakho did excellently to preserve the two-goal lead, deflecting John Swift’s effort wide for a corner. Liam Kelly then couldn’t quite stretch enough to divert another deflected effort goalwards from close range.
Zaha almost had a second on the hour mark, volleying just wide following good trickery and a cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka – who was impressing again at right-back.
But, as is usually the case, the Eagles academy graduate and prized asset would go on to produce the highlight of the game. Zaha found himself on the end of a cleverly-crafted Palace move, teed up by McArthur, and the former Manchester United home curled in majestically from 25 yards.
The Eagles were not finished. James Tomkins added a fourth and final goal on 68 minutes, heading home Andros Townsend’s cross after Mannone had lost the flight of the ball.
The Eagles host French outfit Toulouse at Selhurst Park next Saturday.
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