Match report and highlights as Crystal Palace come from behind to beat Leeds at Selhurst Park; Eberechi Eze scored winner after brilliant combination with Wilfried Zaha; Odsonne Edouard earlier cancelled out Pascal Struijk’s opener; Palace up to 15th while Leeds drop to 14th
Eberechi Eze’s classy goal 14 minutes from time secured Crystal Palace’s second Premier League win of the season as they came from behind to beat Leeds at Selhurst Park.
Neither side went into the game with any kind of form after sharing just four points from their last eight Premier League matches combined, and Palace started the game like a team hovering above the relegation zone, showing nerves throughout the team as they allowed Pascal Struijk to give Leeds an early lead.
But Odsonne Edouard equalised soon after against the run of play and Palace were a team transformed in the second half, sealing all three points when Eze drilled a finish past Illan Meslier in the 76th minute after combining joyously with Wilfried Zaha on the edge of the Leeds area.
Palace’s win moves them up to 15th in the Premier League – three points above the relegation zone – while Leeds drop to 14th and are now winless in five matches.
How Eze earned Palace vital win
No one can doubt the good work done by Patrick Vieira since he replaced Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace at the start of last season and the Eagles’ tricky start to the season – their opponents had an average league position of 6.86 before Sunday – meant a position just above the bottom three was not being treated with too much concern.
Still, a home game against a Leeds side without a win since August represented a vital opportunity for Palace to get three points on the board and, thanks to an impressive second-half performance, Vieira’s side did just that.
They did not start like a team scrapping for points, though, with Vicente Guaita a bag of nerves with the ball at his feet and his team-mates unable to keep the ball when they did gain possession.
It did not take long for Leeds – who looked far sharper than their hosts in the first half – to take advantage, with Brendan Aaronson allowed to dribble into the area and fire in a shot that came back off the post to Struijk, who was given the freedom of the penalty area to put his side ahead.
Edouard’s equaliser from Michael Olise’s excellent outswinging free-kick was executed perfectly but came out of the blue, and Leeds continued to dominate until half-time.
However, whatever Vieira said to motivate his side at the break worked and they quickly wrestled momentum away from Leeds before finally turning the game around through Eze, who played a glorious one-two with Zaha, dummied past a defender and then fired a shot past the stranded Meslier to give the home fans a long-awaited win.
Eze getting back to best after positional switch
Tyler Adams closes down Eberechi Eze
Eze made his return from the nasty Achilles injury he suffered in May 2021 last November but it has taken until the start of this season for the 24-year-old to finally return to something approaching his best form.
It’s hard to blame Eze for that, given the seriousness of the injury he suffered and the fact that, when he returned to fitness, Palace had changed managers and he had a number of new team-mates from which to win back his starting place.
But Vieira has never seemed to doubt the talent Eze has at his disposal, with the manager easing him back into the starting XI at the end of last season and then handing him a regular berth this campaign.
Vieira has been rewarded for that patience, with Eze now back to dazzling opponents and fans alike with the skill he so often showed during his debut campaign at Selhurst Park after arriving from QPR.
But Vieira is also being rewarded for a tactical switch, with his decision to deploy Eze – previously used as a winger or No 10 – as part of a midfield three paying dividends.
The move is allowing Eze to use his undoubted technical skill to exert more influence on games, as shown by him ranking second for touches and accurate passes among all players in Palace’s win over Leeds.
Vieira spoke after the game about how Eze has yet more potential to unlock and how the key to doing so is for the former England U21 international to effect games more in the final third.
Eze certainly showed he is capable of doing that against Leeds, with his 16 final-third passes the most among all Palace players and his brilliant goal coming after he ventured towards the opposition area to exchange passes with Zaha.
For so long the attacking burden has often fallen on Zaha but, with Eze finding his feet again and being encouraged to play further forward, the Palace crowd favourite may have a team-mate to help share the load.
Vieira: We needed different ingredients
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Vieira said: “It’s a good win – we needed that.
“It wasn’t pretty but we needed some different ingredients from the last couple of games. Today we worked hard, we rolled up our sleeves and competed and in the end we scored a goal. It’s good for us.
“We wanted to play from the back and the way they were pressing made it really difficult for us. In the first half-an-hour our decision-making from the back wasn’t the best and we put ourselves into difficulties. We lost confidence and made wrong decisions.
“Credit to the players, going 1-0 down and to fight back and get the win. They worked really well and fully deserved to get that.
“The last couple of games we didn’t get what we deserved but today was a good win for us.”