Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke marked their respective returns to the Crystal Palace XI with doubles in a 5-1 hammering of West Brom, who controversially had Matheus Pereira sent off.
Zaha had been self-isolating after a positive Covid-19 test while an often out-of-favour Benteke was handed his first Premier League start of the season as Roy Hodgson hunted for goals.
The tone of the game was set inside eight minutes when Darnell Furlong turned a Zaha cross into the back of his own net to hand Palace the lead. But West Brom rallied and Conor Gallagher scored his second Premier League goal when he coolly swept home on the 30-minute mark.
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There was VAR controversy soon after as Pereira was sent off for violent conduct. The officials deemed he had kicked out at Patrick van Aanholt after being sent over by the defender, with Paul Tierney brandishing a red card after consulting the pitchside monitor.
It proved to be the decisive moment in the game as the floodgates opened after the break. Zaha (55, 68) and Benteke (59, 82) took their turns in punishing Albion as Palace scored five goals away from home for the first time in the top division.
It was another afternoon to forget for West Brom, who remain entrenched in the relegation places and have moved down to 19th on goal difference, while Crystal Palace are now in 11th with 16 points.
How Crystal Palace hammered the Baggies
After two weeks out of action, Zaha showed he was ready to perform inside three minutes. Jeffrey Schlupp drove into the middle, before slotting Zaha in despite colliding with Romaine Sawyers. Referee Tierney waved play on, but Zaha could only graze the top of the net.
The winger was involved again as Crystal Palace were gifted the lead shortly after. Luka Milivojevic slotted a free-kick down the right channel for Zaha, who shook off his marker, Pereira, leaving him on the floor. His flashed cross into the area was then agonisingly turned home by Furlong's outstretched foot. There was a short VAR review for the tussle between Zaha and Pereira, but the West Brom midfielder was simply not strong enough to stop his man.
West Brom: Johnstone (6), Ajayi (6), Ivanovic (6), Bartley (5), Furlong (6), Gallagher (6), Sawyers (5), Phillips (6), Pereira (5), Grant (4), Diangana (5).
Subs used: Krovinovic (5), Robinson (5), O'Shea (n/a).
Crystal Palace: Guaita (6), Clyne (7), Kouyate (7), Cahill (7), Van Aanholt (7), Milivojevic (7), McArthur (7), Zaha (9), Schlupp (8), Eze (8), Benteke (8).
Subs used: Riedewald (5), Ayew (5), Batshuayi (5).
Man of the match: Wilfried Zaha.
West Brom piled the pressure on the Crystal Palace box with Matt Phillips lofting a great cross into the area from the left. Furlong then sent a thunderous header goalwards, but it could only ping off the crossbar.
But Furlong was involved again as West Brom nabbed their equaliser on the stroke of the half-hour mark. It began with a superb pass from Semi Ajayi down the right for the wing-back, cutting out Van Aanholt. Furlong's initial attempt was blocked by Gary Cahill, before he then sent the ball back into the area for the waiting Gallagher. It was then a calm, sweeping finish from the youngster to score in his second successive Premier League game.
- West Brom made two changes. Conor Townsend is injured while Callum Robinson dropped to the bench with Matt Phillips and Grady Diangana coming into the XI.
- Crystal Palace also made three changes. Scott Dann, Andros Townsend and Jordan Ayew dropped out – the latter two among the substitutes – with Luka Milivojevic, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke back in the XI.
West Brom's joy was short-lived, though, when Pereira was sent off minutes later. Van Aanholt initially bundled the midfielder over, but as he fell to the floor, Pereira's raised legs - intentionally or otherwise - caught the Crystal Palace defender in the midriff. VAR spotted the incident and reviewed it for violent conduct and after referee Tierney consulted the pitchside monitor, Pereira was shown a red card.
Crystal Palace dominated the second half and after some early chances, Zaha scored his first of the afternoon in the 55th minute. It was another driving run from Schlupp, across the top of the area this time, with his initial strike blocked by Branislav Ivanovic. The loose ball was then poked into Zaha's path by James McArthur, and he sent a superb diagonal strike into the far corner.
Benteke nabbed his first goal of the season four minutes later. Schlupp was the instigator once again, driving down the left flank before slotting the ball through for Van Aanholt inside the area. He did just enough to keep the ball in play before cutting it back for the waiting Benteke at the near post, who stooped down to nod the ball home ahead of Bartley.
Although Zaha scored the fourth Crystal Palace goal, it should be Eberechi Eze who takes the credit for some superb work in the build-up. He strode towards the area before playing a neat one-two with Benteke. Eze then drove through the middle of the two centre-backs, with his cross for Zaha pinging off the foot of Bartley on the way through. It landed kindly for the winger, who side-footed the ball home for his second of the afternoon.
Anything Zaha can do, Benteke could match on Sunday, and rounded off an emphatic victory. Nathaniel Clyne delivered a superb cross into the area, which Michy Batshuayi left for Benteke just behind. The striker then turned easily away Filip Krovinovic before drilling the ball home, matching his goals tally from last season (2) in 45 minutes.
Man of the match - Wilfried Zaha
It was a sensational return to the squad for Zaha, who certainly had some energy to burn off after two weeks in self-isolation. It is also no surprise that Crystal Palace won after going two games without their talisman, who is really starting to click with Eze up front.
He flashed the warning signs early on, and claimed an assist for the opening goal. There was then his own two strikes in the second half, the first of which was wonderfully taken and the second demonstrated why you need to be in the right place at the right time.
After the game, manager Roy Hodgson told Sky Sports: "I thought he was really, really good. I apologised for not giving him the chance to get his hat-trick, which he was a little bit disappointed with, but I'm pleased he's disappointed with that. I would have been less pleased if he said he wanted to come off so I'm pleased he wanted the hat-trick.
"He scored two very good goals and was assisted on his second goal by some amazing play from Eze, who I thought had his best game in a Palace shirt for us so far."
Zaha had six shots - the most of the Crystal Palace teams - and has now scored seven goals in nine Premier League games for Crystal Palace this season. His previous seven goals came over a period of 49 appearances, with Zaha surely hitting a much-needed purple patch.
Should Pereira have been sent off?
Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness: "Van Aanholt bundles into him - there's no nastiness there. Pereira could say his legs come up because of the momentum as he going's back; the fact he catches Van Aanholt makes it worse but I don't think that's a sending-off. I think he has lashed out a bit but is it dangerous play? I think it's harsh. You have to apply common sense. For me, it's spoilt the game."
Sky Sports pundit Alex Scott: "I think it's soft but the word [Graeme] has used - 'lashed out' - is why they're looking at it. But for me it's soft and it's now going to change the complexion of the game."
What the managers said
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West Brom manager Slaven Bilic said: "It is a big frustration for us, it was a key moment in the game. We conceded a cheap own-goal from the free-kick and we came back, we played good, we equalised, we were on top of the game and that moment was the key moment.
"At least he [the VAR referee Michael Oliver] gave him [the on-field referee Paul Tierney] an option so I can't have any complaints. It wasn't a kick but he can't do that on this level - you can't do that on any level. He could get away with a yellow card but he gave the option to the referee and VAR.
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"He'll be a big miss because he's playing good as a whole team, we saw that in the first half. For us to be competitive and have chances in every game, we have to be 11 vs 11, we have to make situations with two against one in our favour.
"When you're down to ten men, it's not only tactically, but it's psychologically that it affected us big time. But I'm not happy how we collapsed after they scored the third one.
"There was a situation just before the second goal that was very interesting for me in our box when I think it was a penalty [after McArthur fouled Gallagher] and it should have been given to us - but it wasn't.
"So a very good first half, a good performance but 5-1 is a heavy defeat for us."
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said: "I thought the performance was good even before the sending off, which does affect the other team's performance.
"But I thought we were doing well before that and were a little bit unlucky to concede the equaliser but even against ten men, you've still got to play your football and do the right things. I think we certainly did that throughout the game today and were good value for our victory.
"The most important thing is that it's great for him [Benteke's two goals]. You have faith in your players anyway and if you work with them the way we do, we work very hard not to lose faith in our players.
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"We see them in training and how hard they work and if it's not working for them on the field at times, we feel sympathy for them. We're not angry with them or upset, we're empathic but it's nice for him that he got his chance today that he waited patiently for. He's rewarded me, who put him in the team, with two very good goals.
"For the first time since I joined the club, I've found myself having sleepless nights and headaches over team selection because there are so many good players I'm being forced to leave out and it's not easy. You never want to compare, but you don't have a good reason necessarily for not playing them.
"I'm going to have to ask the players to accept that because if we're going to do well this season, we're going to need all these players. Between now and Christmas, we have a very difficult programme with some very good teams to play so it's nice to have some points on the board."
Opta stats - Hodgson haunts West Brom
- Roy Hodgson has won 11 Premier League matches against teams he's previously managed in the division - no manager has won more such matches (also Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce with 11 wins vs former clubs).
- Since the start of the 2012/13 season, only Olivier Giroud (31) has scored more headed Premier League goals than Christian Benteke (27).
- Conor Gallagher (20 years & 304 days) became the youngest player to score in consecutive Premier League games for West Brom since Saido Berahino in January 2014 (20y 150d).
- West Bromwich Albion became the first team to score an own goal and receive a red card in the first half of a Premier League game since Spurs vs West Ham in May 2014, and the first to do so in a home game since Bolton Wanderers vs Leicester in December 2001.
Both teams are back on Sky Sports next weekend. West Brom will travel to Newcastle on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 3pm. Crystal Palace will host in-form Tottenham on Super Sunday; kick-off 2.15pm.