A wonder goal from Ebere Eze helped Crystal Palace return to winning ways and inflict more misery on Sheffield United with a 2-0 victory in the Premier League on Saturday.
Roy Hodgson’s side had not tasted success since thrashing West Brom at the start of December but two first-half goals — from Eze and Jeffrey Schlupp — saw the Eagles triumph in their first match of the year.
Sheffield United struggled to create chances in the capital and fell to its 15th league defeat of the season to add to its relegation worries.
Luka Milivojevic was a notable inclusion in the Palace starting lineup despite pictures emerging on social media of the captain appearing to break coronavirus rules by mixing with Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic on New Year’s Eve.
Sheffield United went into the game with only two points after 16 rounds and was without several players due to a mixture of injuries, suspension and COVID-19 related issues.
Its problems increased four minutes into proceedings at Selhurst Park.
A quick break down the left from Wilfried Zaha saw the Palace attacker eventually able to find Christian Benteke and the striker played a perfectly weighted throughball into the area for the opener. The onrushing Schlupp saw his effort take a deflection before it found the net via the post.
Schlupp was forced off with injury in the 40th minute and Eze was summoned in his place.
Five minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the first half, following treatment for Lys Mousset early on, and Palace made good use of it by doubling the advantage with a goal of the season contender.
Eze collected James McArthur’s pass deep inside his own half and skipped past Oliver Norwood before he did the same to Ethan Ampadu and then produced a measured curled finish into the bottom corner beyond Aaron Ramsdale from 20 yards United only had six players on the bench and one was 16-year-old Antwoine Hackford, who made his debut late on but was denied a consolation by Joel Ward’s block