Two fine strikes from Eberechi Eze earned Crystal Palace a Premier League win over Bournemouth at Selhurst Park.
Eze slammed home from six yards shortly before half-time, before curling into the top corner after Michael Olise’s fine pass as the Palace number 10 scored 10 league goals this season.
Bournemouth offered little in a game between two teams safe from the prospect of relegation.
Palace remain 12th in the table, now four points above Bournemouth in 14th.
The win saw Palace complete the league double against Bournemouth, having won 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium on December 31.
It turned out to be their last victory under Patrick Vieira, who was fired after failing to win any of their 12 top matches.
It was a run that threatened the Eagles’ Premier League status, but their descent was halted by the appointment of Roy Hodgson and five wins from the last eight games.
It remains to be seen whether the 75-year-old, under contract until the end of the season, will extend his second spell at Selhurst Park.
Eze shines again for Palace with no downside threat
A few weeks ago, this match could have been designated as a relegation six points. Instead, it was a low-stakes end-of-season encounter between two teams with their top-flight status secured.
That was clear in the way both teams started the game, serenaded by chants of “we’re staying up” from the traveling supporters in what could best be described as comfortable opening 40 minutes.
A 25th-minute turn from Maradona by Palace defender Joel Ward was indicative of a game between two sides now relishing the game without the lingering threat of the bottom three on their minds.
Joachim Andersen, however, seemed unaware that Palace had little more to fight for, as they avoided a red card in the first half following a lengthy video assistant referee (VAR) check after catching Jefferson Lerma in the face.
Palace woke up early, with quick and skilful wing play from Olise and Wilfried Zaha causing plenty of problems for Bournemouth, before Eze opened the scoring four minutes before the break.
Zaha turned inside, found Andre Ayew who launched Eze from six yards for the midfielder to slam past Neto.
It was probably the only Premier League game without anything, but that hasn’t stopped Eze from showing again why, when fully fit, he is one of the brightest midfielders in the division. – and his second goal was even better.
Olise got his 10th Premier League assist of the season – a new record for a Palace player – as he played a fine through ball to Eze on the left who controlled, cut inside and thumped into the top corner right.
Final arc for Zaha amid injury fears?
One worry from this game for Palace is that Zaha could have played his last game for the club after being sent off in the second half with what looked like a hamstring injury.
The Ivory Coast winger’s contract expires this summer, and the Selhurst Park crowd gave him a standing ovation as he left the pitch, in case it was Zaha’s 457th and final appearance at the Palace.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth conceded 69 Premier League goals in 2022-23, just one shy of their highest figure in 2018-19.
Gary O’Neil made two defensive changes to his starting XI, with Chris Mepham and Ilya Zabarnyi replacing Adam Smith and Marcos Senesi, but they were once again porous at the back.
O’Neil has ensured Bournemouth’s survival this season in relative comfort, but has a lot of work ahead of him to solve his defensive problems.
He will certainly be happy to see the Palace full-back for a while – it was Bournemouth’s fifth consecutive Premier League loss to the Eagles.
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