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Crystal Palace vs West Bromwich Albion. Premier League.

Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace 1

  • L Milivojevic (37th minute pen)

West Bromwich Albion 0

    Crystal Palace 1-0 West Brom: Luka Milivojevic penalty deepens West Brom relegation fears

    Report and free match highlights as Luka Milivojevic converts from the spot after a VAR review penalised Darnell Furlong for handball; West Brom have 12 shots at Selhurst Park, but only one on target; Sam Allardyce's side remain eight points from Premier League safety

    preview image 2:59
    FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace's win over West Brom in the Premier League

    Luka Milivojevic's first half penalty was enough for Crystal Palace to beat West Brom 1-0, compounding the Baggies' relegation fears with nine games to play.

    It was a better result than when West Brom were thrashed 5-1 by Palace in December - and they played well in spells - but a lack of cutting edge up front cost them again, having just one shot on target with their 12 efforts.

    Darnell Furlong will also be glad to see the back of Crystal Palace this season, having scored an own goal in the reverse fixture and gifting the hosts a penalty on Saturday. Wilfried Zaha's cross hit him on the arm inside the area and, after a lengthy VAR check, the spot kick was awarded. It was converted by Milivojevic (37), who fired home past Sam Johnstone.

    There were a handful of chances for both to score the next goal in the second half, but it was the penalty that was ultimately the difference, keeping West Brom in 19th and eight points from safety. The victory pushes Crystal Palace into 11th and more or less confirms their place in the Premier League for another season.

    How Crystal Palace beat West Brom again

    crystal palace celebrate
    Image: Crystal Palace celebrate after Luka Milivojevic's penalty

    West Brom had the better of the first half chances at Selhurst Park. Birthday boy Matt Phillips sent in a great cross from the right wing, with Matheus Pereira there to nod the ball back into the middle. Although Gallagher was waiting, Cheikhou Kouyate nicked through to see the ball scrambled behind.

    Gallagher had another sight of goal soon after, but send a floating effort from range into the empty stands. Okay Yokuslu went closer from a similar range, turning into space before striking, but sent his effort curling just wide.

    Player ratings

    Crystal Palace: Guaita (6), Ward (7), Kouyate (7), Cahill (7), Van Aanholt (7), Milivojevic (8), Riedewald (7), Eze (6), Zaha (7), Benteke (7), Ayew (6).

    Subs used: Schlupp (5), Townsend (5).

    West Brom: Johnstone (7), Furlong (6), O’Shea (7), Bartley (7), Townsend (6), Yokuslu (7), Pereira (6), Gallagher (7), Maitland-Niles (6), Phillips (7), Diagne (6).

    Subs used: Robson-Kanu (5), Snodgrass (5).

    Man of the match: Luka Milivojevic.

    But the VAR drama was on the way as Crystal Palace were awarded a penalty. Patrick van Aanholt slotted a penalty down the left side for Zaha, whose cross into the area hit Furlong on the arm. The cries went up for a penalty but play continued, with Milivojevic forcing a fingertip save from Sam Johnstone with a thunderous effort.

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    Once the ball was out of play, VAR intervened. Firstly, they checked to see if Zaha was onside when the free kick was played and, after the use of the offside lines, was judged to be in line. Simon Hooper was then sent to the pitchside monitor to assess the handball and it did not take long to award Crystal Palace the penalty. It was another good quality spot kick from Milivojevic too, sending Johnstone the wrong way to hand Crystal Palace the lead.

    Team news

    • Crystal Palace made one change with Wilfried Zaha back in the starting XI, in place of Andros Townsend.
    • West Brom named the same XI from last weekend. The only change was on the bench with Grady Diangana back in the matchday squad and Romain Sawyers missing out.

    Both sides had their best chances of the second half within ten minutes of the restart. Christian Benteke - who scored twice in the reverse fixture - sent a low, hard strike goalwards, but Johnstone made an equally as good save to tip the effort behind for a corner.

    Action from Crystal Palace vs West Brom
    Image: Crystal Palace have done the double over West Brom for the first time in the top flight

    At the other end, Conor Townsend sent in a superb cross from the left wing, which landed kindly for Phillips. However, he hit it first time with no direction and send it flying into the Holmesdale End. Minutes later, Phillips' placed shot was well blocked before Pereira's curled effort from the top the area just went wide.

    Eberechi Eze had his own sight of goal in the 65th minute, but fired straight at Johnstone, as Crystal Palace registered their first ever top-flight double over West Brom.

    Zaha opts against taking a knee before Palace-WBA

    Wilfried Zaha decides to stand instead of taking a knee ahead of Palace's match with West Brom. 0:44
    Wilfried Zaha opted to stand instead of taking a knee ahead of Crystal Palace's match with West Brom, saying it has just become part of the pre-match routine

    Wilfried Zaha has called for greater efforts towards education on racial inequality and says social media companies should start taking "strong action" over abuse after he opted against taking a knee before kick-off of Crystal Palace's match against West Brom.

    In a statement, the midfielder said: "My decision to stand at kick-off has been public knowledge for a couple of weeks now.

    "There is no right or wrong decision, but for me personally I feel kneeling has just become a part of the pre-match routine and at the moment it doesn't matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse.

    Wilfried Zaha 2:23
    Soccer Saturday's Clinton Morrison discusses Wilfried Zaha's decision to not take a knee

    "I know there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes at the Premier League and other authorities to make change, and I fully respect that, and everyone involved.

    "I also fully respect my teammates and players at other clubs who continue to take the knee.

    "As a society, I feel we should be encouraging better education in schools, and social media companies should be taking strong action against people who abuse others online - not just footballers.

    "I now just want to focus on football and enjoy being back playing on the pitch. I will continue to stand tall."

    Man of the match - Luka Milivojevic

    It was Milivojevic's penalty that won it for Crystal Palace as he continues to be their go-to guy for set-pieces. He also led the way for interceptions (four) and made the most passes of the team against West Brom, with 26 of his 37 efforts successful. Milivojevic was joint-top for open play crosses and interceptions, as the Eagles registered a vital win.

    What the managers said

    preview image 4:41
    Despite being 11 points clear of the relegation zone after their victory over West Brom, Roy Hodgson is warning his players against complacency in their final nine matches of the season

    Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said: "I put it down as a very good, solid win against a team that ask a lot of you and you've got to make certain that you're capable of answering the questions you know are going to come your way.

    "It's all very solid football from their side and if you're not careful, if you don't plug the gaps and compete as you need to, then you pay the price. I thought the reason we didn't pay the price today was because we did those things particularly well.

    "It's one of those games where you don't get much praise for either drawing or winning, but the most important thing is, if you do the job properly, you get points and those points are valuable.

    "We're happy with 37 points, it's a lot closer to where we want to be, but we're not safe. We'll only be safe when the number of points that we're in front is greater than the number of games remaining. It's an obvious truth but it's a very important truth as well.

    "We have an opportunity now, we've got nine games and we need more points. But there are teams below us and behind us and we do have a margin to them… But we know there are nine more matches and we need nine more performances. If we fight like we did today then we're going to be a hard nut to crack for the nine teams we play."

    Before kick-off, Zaha opted against taking a knee, becoming the first Premier League player to choose not to kneel before games since Project Restart began last summer.

    "I would be unbelievably surprised if there was anyone who suggested for one minute that Wilf doing what he's doing because he doesn't care.

    "It seems to me that he's doing it because he cares too much or wants to show he cares as much as everybody else and perhaps even more because he's making a strong statement that he doesn't think at the moment that the things we are doing are having quite the same drastic effect as perhaps they had right at the beginning.

    "I don't think he's alone on that, I've heard it mooted on several occasions, but if anyone doubts Wilf's commitment to the cause of anti-racism, then I can assure them that they have no reason to do so."

    Sam Allardyce says the lack of a natural goalscorer is costing West Brom dearly and the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace leaves his side with a ‘massive mountain to climb'

    West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said: "You don't fear the worse when you play like that, when you outplay the opposition and you arrive in the opposition penalty area twice as many times as they do playing at home.

    "We put twice as many crosses in, had twice as many shots but unfortunately, our shot ratio is where it all lies. We had 12 shots today and only one on target, so it tells you our problems and what our problems have been over the last ten games or so.

    "It is very frustrating for the players that their efforts haven't been rewarded. That's a consistent analysis from me over the last eight or ten games - not getting what we deserved, which in the main, is our own lack of finishing in the end, unfortunately.

    "You need a natural goalscorer and when you have one, he finds a way to be in the right area and he doesn't need more than one or two opportunities to score a goal. Lots of teams down there [at the bottom of the Premier League] in our position find that it is their ultimate problem where you struggle to get the finishing touches because you haven't really got an out-and-out goalscorer. That makes life very difficult for you.

    "Everything about what we're doing now is defending superbly well, although we could have avoided the penalty. Our football up until the final third is excellent, our balls into the box maybe could be better but they're coming and the chances are there where we need more responsibly with not just scoring, but hitting the target… When you keep missing the target, it's the most disappointing thing for me.

    "There are 27 points available and 20 needed [to stay up]. We can only afford to drop seven points if we really want to be safe. Mathematically, we're not down yet and we'll keep on fighting and stuff like that, but it's a massive mountain to climb."

    Opta stats

    • West Brom have failed to score in 15 Premier League games this season; only in 2008-09 (17) and 2005-06 (18) have they drawn a blank in more games in a single campaign in the competition.
    • Crystal Palace's 1-0 win over West Brom was Roy Hodgson's 12th Premier League win over a side he has previously managed in the competition, now the most of any manager.
    • Matt Phillips became the 32nd player to play a Premier League game on his birthday this season, and the fifth to do so for West Bromwich Albion this term (also Romaine Sawyers, Callum Robinson, Conor Townsend and Dara O'Shea).

    What's next?

    Both teams now have a three week break before their next game. Crystal Palace will travel to Everton on Saturday, April 3 while West Brom are back in London, this time at Chelsea, on the same day. Both games are subject to change.

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