Premier League - Puncheon proves the difference as Crystal Palace edge win over Aston Villa

Premier League, Selhurst Park - Crystal Palace 1 (Puncheon 76) Aston Villa 0

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Premier League - Puncheon proves the difference as Crystal Palace edge win over Aston Villa
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Crystal Palace's Cameron Jerome controls the ball against Aston Villa (Getty)

Jason Puncheon's goal was the difference as Crystal Palace edged a win over Aston Villa in this meeting of two evenly-matched sides attempting to banish the spectre of relegation.

He turned and struck home on 76 minutes after Yannick Bolasie’s excellent work down the left, securing three points to lift them out of the mid-table mire, but leaving Villa still fretful about their end-of-season fate.

The first half was a rather soporific, turgid affair. Villa were dominant in terms of possession from the off, passing neatly in midfield, but looked unlikely to create any chances, whereas Palace looked more dangerous on the break with their more direct approach.

A little drama was created after 36 minutes as Yannick Bolasie tried to claim he was pulled back by Grant Holt in the area, causing him to lose his footing, but the contact seemed minimal at best. Regardless, referee Howard Webb failed to point to the spot.

There was more penalty area controversy just before the hour, in a second half that was marginally brighter, as Brad Guzan tried to take a quick throw to launch a counterattack. Mile Jedinak got in his way and the goalkeeper made no attempt to avoid crashing into him. Aston Villa got the free-kick for obstruction; but another referee might have seen it as a foul on Guzan’s part and awarded a penalty the other way.

Seven minutes later, Palace thought they had finally got a spot-kick for handball against Ciaran Clark. Indeed, Webb pointed to the spot, thinking that his assistant had indicated the penalty. After a quick conference, though, he changed his mind; and rightly so, as Clark had made contact with his chest.

Substitutes Andreas Weimann and Marc Albrighton reinvigorated Villa as they entered the fray for the last ten minutes, but ultimately they could not capitalise on the extra chances they created.

HIGHLIGHTS

14' CHANCE! Bolasie gets into the box from the left, and Jason Puncheon, in the middle, can't get to the ball in because Ryan Bertrand is in the way.

23' CHANCE! Good ball in from Ashley Westwood towards Grant Holt, but the striker gets the foul given against him for his challenge on Mariappa.

31' UNLUCKY! Grant Holt finds himself out on the wing, and crosses it back to Westwood on the edge of the area. He lets fly - but it's blocked by Delaney.

39' CLOSE! Chamakh and Bolasie get in each other's way as they both go up for Mariappa's cross at the far post. It's out for a goal kick.

54’ CHANCE! How close was that? Bolasie steps over and Guzan palms it on to the boot of Jerome, who hits the bar from close range.

61’ CLOSE! There's a very big gap in the Villa defence, and Bolasie strikes through it. It's drifting wide, past Guzan's right-hand post.

67’ DRAMA! Palace call for handball against Ciaran Clark as Brad Guzan gathers a cross; Howard Webb looks across to his assistant referee and thinks he's indicating a penalty, and points to the spot. Then he goes over to confer, and changes his mind, giving a free-kick to Villa. All very confusing.

76' GOAL! Finally, Jason Puncheon manages to get a shot on target. Bolasie beats his man down the left, Puncheon turns well and hits it low, and it bounces off the post and into the net.

87' CHANCE! Great chance for Andreas Weimann, flicking nonchantly towards the goal, and great save by Julian Speroni, round the post to his left.

KEY STATS

Crystal Palace record their 11th Premier League win of the season.

Aston Villa have now won just one of their last nine Barclays Premier League meetings with the Eagles, drawing four and losing four.

Aston Villa have scored just six goals in the six Premier League games that Christian Benteke has played no part in this season.

Excluding Christian Benteke, Aston Villa’s squad have scored just 24 goals in 33 Premier League games this season (not counting own goals).

With this victory, Crystal Palace have won three successive Premier League matches for the first time since November 1994 (four games).

Aston Villa equal their worst run of defeats in the Premier League under Paul Lambert (four games in Dec 2013).

TALKING POINT

That series of penalty chances - and in particular the one that was awarded after 67 minutes for handball...before Howard Webb changed his mind.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Yannick Bolasie - always lively, and his hard work created Puncheon's goal.

RATINGS

CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni 8, Mariappa 7, Dann 7, Delaney 7, Ward 7, Dikgacoi 5, Jedinak 7, Bolasie 8, Puncheon 6, Ledley 7, Jerome 7. Subs: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Parr 6, Ince, Gayle, Murray 6, Chamakh 7.

ASTON VILLA: Guzan 7, Baker 5, Vlaar 6, Clark 6, Lowton 6, Bertrand 6, El Ahmadi 6, Westwood 6, Delph 6, Agbonlahor 6, Holt 5. Subs: Steer, Bennett, Sylla, Albrighton 7, Tonev, Bowery, Weimann 7.

MATCH IN A TWEET

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