Crystal Palace 2 Aston Villa 1: Bakary Sako gave Palace fans hope Alan Pardew’s side can flourish without Yannick Bolasie with a dramatic late winner against disappointing Villa.
Sako moved to Selhurst Park as a free agent in the summer following a three-year stay at Wolves but Pardew only turned to the Mali international because Bolasie, a transfer target for Spurs, had returned to his family home in Congo following the death of his father.
Pardew was also able to replace Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray with Dwight Gayle and Jordon Mutch at half-time, providing his team with a more incisive cutting edge that eventually made the difference.
“You need those forward options,” said the manager. “It was a different scenario today. And we have those lovely options you need in the Premier League to be able to change things.”
Pardew may also lose Gayle who rejected the chance to join Bristol City earlier this month, but the manager is keen to keep hold of Murray, who is a target for Bournemouth. Sako’s performance, however, confirmed the squad has strength.
“I had a few options so I took my time,” said Sako. “I think I took the right option.
“I am a confident player. I knew there were some good players at this club and I came. You have to have confidence to go up and do well for the team .”
Scott Dann’s 70th-minute header put Palace ahead and Sako’s late winner secured a second victory in three games after Pape Souare’s own goal after great work from Adama Traore had raised the visitors’ hopes of earning a point. However, Tim Sherwood, the Villa manager, is taking a longer term view of his overhauled squad’s progress.
“It’s a long-term project, everyone realises that,” said Sherwood. “When we brought in these players everyone realised we’re not just bringing them in for this season. We’re bringing them in for the long-term view of the club. I still recognise we need to win. We need to start winning and we will.
“If if we can beat Sunderland next weekend going into the international break, two wins, two losses. it would give us a platform to build on.”
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-1-3-2):
McCarthy 8; Ward 6, Delaney 8, Dann 9, Souare 6; McArthur 6; Cabaye 7 (Jedinak 82), Puncheon 7, Sako 8; Zaha 5 (Mutch 46, 7), Murray 5 (Gayle 46, 7).
ASTON VILLA (4-3-1-2):
Guzan 7; Bacuna 7, Richards 7, Clark 6, Amavi 6; Gueye 6, Westwood 7, Sanchez 8 (Traore 68, 7); Grealish 7; Agbonlahor 6, Gestede 6.
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