Watford 0 Crystal Palace 1: Alan Pardew hailed the resoluteness of Wilfried Zaha, who was publicly rebuked by the Eagles boss after being hauled off at half-time in the defeat to Tottenham last week.
However, the former Manchester United winger earned the penalty that decided the game shortly after being introduced from the bench.
Yohan Cabaye converted to earn Crystal Palace all three points at Vicarage Road as Watford lost at home for the first time this season.
Pardew said: “I knew that if he was fresh coming off the bench he would cause a problem or two because he’s got that kind of determination to prove that I’m wrong, I like that.
“He did really well and when he starts, it’s about having that concentration all the time.”
Pardew was also quick to pay tribute to his side’s focus at Vicarage Road and was delighted they were able to put narrow defeats to Spurs and Manchester City in recent weeks behind them.
He added: “Sometimes as a manager you want a performance that really lifts you and this lifted me today because our concentration levels were really, really high. The back four were terrific, they didn’t give Watford too much daylight at all today, but it didn’t take away from our threat.
“We got ourselves a really great win in a tight game because we’d lost two tight games and we didn’t really deserve to lose in my opinion, particularly the City game, so it’s like drawing at City, drawing at Spurs and drawing here that would be fantastic.
“If we keep going for the wins, it makes up for those games where the margins cost us, so it was very important we won today and I’m very pleased.”
Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores admitted Palace caused the Hornets some problems but thought the penalty decision was harsh.
He told BBC Sport: “It was difficult to stop their attack, it was uncomfortable for us. We need to open up the pitch more.
“We did not stop the counter-attack, we were disorganised. It was a very big decision from the referee to decide the match. I am not sure.”
After a mundane start it was the visitors who created the first meaningful chance of the day as Brede Hangeland met Cabaye’s whipped free-kick only to see Heurelho Gomes save from point-blank range.
Despite having plenty of possession it was not until after the interval that Watford side came close to getting on the scoresheet when Jose Jurado hit a 25-yard free-kick off the crossbar with Wayne Hennessey beaten.
The visitors hit back on the counter-attack, with Gomes forced to push a deflected Bakary Sako free-kick behind for a corner before Gayle turned a cross from the former Wolves man against the frame of the goal.
Palace boss Pardew introduced Zaha from the bench and the winger was soon involved, bewildering Nyom with his pace before being tripped by the right-back right on the edge of the Watford box.
Cabaye stepped up to dispatch with aplomb and put the Eagles ahead.
Gayle should have wrapped up the points with a little over 10 minutes remaining but he could only poke wide from close-range following Bolasie’s knock-down from Zaha’s cross.
Gomes, Nyom (Aké 75), Prödl, Cathcart, Anya, Abdi (Berghuis 64), Capoue, Watson (Ibarbo 82), Jurado, Deeney, Ighalo
Hennessey, Kelly, Dann, Hangeland, Souaré, Cabaye, (McArthur 77), Ledley, Puncheon, Sako (Zaha 62), Bolasie, Gayle (Campbell 85).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved