Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough - Story of the Match
Crystal Palace revived their hopes of securing Premier League survival with a 1-0 home defeat of Middlesbrough.
Victory, secured by a first-half goal from Patrick van Aanholt, also took them out of the bottom three and level with their visitors, who could yet struggle to avoid relegation.
Palace remain 17th but, having secured their first home league victory since Sam Allardyce's appointment in December, may yet have enough time to preserve their top-flight status.
TWEET OF THE MATCH:
""Glad all over" mouths Allardyce to the crowd. A victory very much of his making. FT: Palace 1-0 Boro" - Independent journalist Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) credits Allardyce's role in landing the result.
STAR MAN: Andros Townsend. The £13million summer signing has so far struggled at Selhurst Park, but here he rediscovered the belief and direct running that once earned him a place in the England team. He did not get the goal his performance deserved, but if he can maintain this level of performance, Palace can significantly improve.
IN WITH THE CROWD: For whatever reason, for the first time in a long time in what has so far been a miserable season for Palace's fans, they created an atmosphere of positivity and defiance from kick-off. Their team fed off that, and the fans took greater belief from their team's improvement. Too often in the modern Premier League, matchday atmospheres can be flat, but the home supporters at Selhurst Park remain capable of making a difference, which could be crucial from now until the season's end.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH: This fixture appeared to be Allardyce's last chance of truly starting the type of run Palace need to ensure survival. Whatever it is he has done over the past fortnight when they have not had a game, it has worked, because they improved significantly and had a belief that has for so long been missing.
Middlesbrough's team appear capable of more than the relegation battle they have entered, and that owes largely to their manager Aitor Karanka's pragmatism. His attacking players are all too rarely encouraged, and if his solution is to replace the potentially prolific Alvaro Negredo with the impotent Rudy Gestede, their season could get much worse.
Wayne Hennessey: 7/10
Joel Ward: 8
James Tomkins: 7
Mamadou Sakho: 7
Patrick van Aanholt: 8
Luka Milivojevic: 7
Yohan Cabaye: 7
Jason Puncheon: 7
Wilfried Zaha: 7
Andros Townsend: 7
Christian Benteke: 6
James McArthur (for Cabaye, 63): 7
Jeffrey Schlupp (for Van Aanholt, 87): 5
Scott Dann (for Zaha, 88): 5
Victor Valdes: 7
Daniel Ayala: 7
Ben Gibson: 7
Bernardo Espinosa: 6
Marten de Roon: 6
Adam Forshaw: 6
Stewart Downing: 6
Gaston Ramirez: 6
Christian Stuani: 7
Alvaro Negredo: 5
Rudy Gestede (for Negredo, 45): 5
Adlene Guedioura (for Forshaw, 61): 5
Adama Traore (for Stuani, 79): 5
Who's up next?
West Brom v Crystal Palace, Premier League, March 4
Stoke v Middlesbrough, Premier League, March 4