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Crystal Palace 1-0 Stoke City
JASON Puncheon’s 50th minute goal lifted Crystal Palace off the foot of the Premier League and out of the relegation zone as Stoke City were beaten at Selhurst Park this afternoon.
It marked the perfect end to a week to forget for Puncheon following a horrible missed a penalty seven days ago at White Hart Lane.
The Eagles made one change from the side beaten 2-0 at Spurs last week as Cameron Jerome was ineligible to face his parent club under the terms of his loan deal from the Britannia.
Adlene Geudioura started in midfield as Tony Pulis went for a 4-5-1 formation against his former club, with Aaron Wilbraham on the bench for the first time in the Premier League since the 3-1 win over Sunderland in late August.
Joel Ward glanced a header just wide after beating Marouane Chamakh to meet Yannick Bolasie’s fifth minute delivery.
But there was almost disaster at the other end as Danny Gabbidon made a poor connection while attempting to hack Jonathan Walters’ cross clear, fortunately for him though the ball flew over when it could just as easily beaten Julian Speroni.
Gabbidon had a crack at goal at the other end on 13 minutes but his effort was never going to cause visiting keeper Jack Butland any serious concerns.
Speroni reacted well tip behind Marc Wilson’s header after the Stoke defender, and rumoured Palace January target, connected with Charlie Adam’s free-kick.
Stoke again went close midway through the opening half when Erik Pieters chested the ball past Adrian Mariappa before bursting into the area and seeing a volley fly behind.
But chances were and far between in a largely disappointing first half and both sides knew they would need to up their game after the break if they were to collect all three points.
Stoke were clearly the more determined of the two at the restart and almost broke the deadlock within two minutes as Adam dragged a low shot from outside of the area inches wide with Speroni at full stretch.
However, it was the hosts who got their noses in front on 50 minutes.
Oussama Assaidi looked to have snuffed out the threat posed by Mariappa, only to gift the ball to Puncheon, who beat a couple of visiting defenders before drilling a low shot past Butland and going some way to erasing his horror penalty miss at Spurs last weekend.
Adam was unlucky to see a powerful 20-yard shot go about a foot wide with Speroni at full stretch and substitute Stephen Ireland blazed a volley over as Stoke threatened to get back on terms.
And they nearly were when Peter Crouch’s 74th minute attempt from the edge of the area went agonisingly wide.
Butland pulled a hat-trick of first class saves in quick succession to deny Joel Ward, Puncheon and Stuart O’Keefe.
Butland denied Puncheon a second deep into stoppage time, a second that wouldn’t have flattered the hosts based on their efforts after the break.
They didn’t need it though as the final whistle blew shortly afterwards, much to the huge relief and obvious delight of the home supporters.
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Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Bolasie (Moxey 86), Ward, Jedinak, Puncheon, Guedioura (O’Keefe 67), Chamakh (Wilbraham 86). Subs not used: Price, Gayle, Williams, Bannan. Att: 24,440
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