Crystal Palace 2 Cardiff 0
Tony Pulis enjoyed a second home victory inside a week as his Crystal Palace side recorded a fully deserved win over Cardiff at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The former Stoke boss took charge at Palace a little over two weeks ago and, following a narrow loss at Norwich, the Welshman has now guided the Eagles to back-to-back home wins as Cameron Jerome and Marouane Chamakh got on the scoresheet to secure a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Glenn Murray scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win for Palace when these two sides met in south London in the Sky Bet Championship last season, but with their talisman still recovering from a long-term injury, it was two of their summer recruits who sealed another vital victory which moves them to within a point of the 16th-placed Bluebirds.
Much was made of Jerome’s relationship with Pulis during their time together at Stoke but the striker, on a season-long loan from the Britannia Stadium, opened the scoring with his first Palace goal as he headed home after six minutes before going on to be a constant thorn in the side of his former club.
The hosts dominated for large spells and deservedly doubled their lead as Chamakh finished coolly just before the hour mark, with Pulis’ side going on to create the better of the chances after doubling their advantage without adding to their two goals.
Cardiff started well and Fraizer Campbell wasted a golden opportunity to put them ahead inside the opening two minutes.
He was picked out when free in the box by Don Cowie’s cross but his downward header was pushed over by Julian Speroni.
Jerome’s strength seemed to cause problems for the visiting defence from the start but he could not get away in time to get a shot in on goal after the ball fell kindly to him following a crunching Ben Turner challenge on Kagisho Dikgacoi.
The Stoke loanee did not have to wait long to open his Palace account, however, as his ability to hold the ball up played a big part once again.
Jerome showed good strength to hold off Turner and Steven Caulker before finding space and heading home Jason Puncheon’s cross from close range.
Dikgacoi’s through ball set Jerome away once more at the midway point of the first half, with the 27-year-old this time looking to turn provider and seeing his cross cleared behind for a corner.
Adrian Mariappa replaced Dean Moxey at the back for Pulis’ side as the latter limped off injured but it was the hosts who continued to attack.
If the physicality of Jerome through the centre was causing the Bluebirds trouble, it was the sheer pace of Puncheon on the right which was adding to their problems.
The Southampton loanee had set up the opening goal and cut inside once more before lashing his shot wide of the target as Palace looked to double their lead.
Danny Gabbidon tripped Jordon Mutch right on the edge of the Palace penalty area as half-time approached but Peter Whittingham’s free-kick was headed clear by Damien Delaney as the Eagles continued to stand firm and reached half-time unbeaten.
Puncheon cut inside once more early in the second half but his effort was scuffed wide. The Southampton winger’s drifting had Cardiff chasing shadows at time and Mutch brought him down eight minutes into the second half as he popped up on the left.
The resulting free-kick was headed across goal by Chamakh but Jerome could not turn it home as he would have been flagged offside.
As Cardiff pushed forward looking to make more happen in the Palace half they left themselves susceptible to the hosts on the counter-attack.
Only a smart, low save from Marshall prevented Jerome flashing in a second from the edge of the box just before Chamakh doubled the Eagles’ lead with his third goal of the season.
Bannan’s cross towards Jerome was bravely headed clear by Turner but it only dropped to Chamakh, who keep his composure to fire the home side into a two-goal lead.
Jerome proved to be Cardiff’s tormentor well into the second half and saw another effort deflected behind for a corner after wriggling free inside the box.
The resulting corner almost led to the third Palace goal as Jerome diverted a header goalwards with Marshall able to collect his latest effort at the second attempt, only just preventing the ball crossing the line.
Palace were a constant menace from set-pieces and Delaney was the next to win a header from a corner but he could not keep the effort down.
With just under 10 minutes to go Jerome was guilty of putting a decent chance wide of Marshall’s goal as he continued to elude Cardiff’s backline.
The hosts saw the game out on the front foot, with Turner almost directing a Puncheon cross past his own goalkeeper, with the win meaning only an inferior goal difference is keeping the Eagles in the relegation zone.