Sam Allardyce claimed his first Premier League victory in charge of Crystal Palace as Scott Dann and Christian Benteke secured a vital three points with a 2-0 win at Bournemouth.
Palace captain Dann netted his third goal in his last four games against Eddie Howe’s side 46 minutes into a scrappy encounter at the Vitality Stadium, stealing in ahead of Christian Benteke to hammer the visitors ahead.
Dann’s strike came after a full-throttle first-half in which Wilfried Zaha – preferred to Andros Townsend amid rumours of a deadline-day return to Newcastle United for the former Tottenham winger – had rattled the woodwork and brought a superb save out of Artur Boruc.
Bournemouth had tested the Palace defence, though, and would have taken the lead themselves prior to the interval if not for a timely block from Dann to skew Junior Stanislas’ effort off target.
8 – Since the start of last season, Scott Dann has scored more Premier League goals than any other defender. Soaring.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 31, 2017
And although Simon Francis went close to restoring parity with just over twenty minutes remaining, Palace held firm and Benteke’s stoppage-time header made sure of their first win at Bournemouth since November 1987.
The victory lifts Palace onto 19 points, though the Eagles still remain in the relegation zone, two points adrift of Swansea City, who overcame Southampton.
Palace confirmed the signing of Olympiacos midfielder Luka Milivojevic following Tuesday’s clash, with deals for Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho and Everton’s Arouna Kone also possible.
Desperate to break his duck as Palace boss, Allardyce showed no hesitation in restoring Zaha to his line-up following the winger’s return from the Africa Cup of Nations.
That decision almost paid dividends inside five minutes, as the Ivory Coast forward struck the left-hand upright with a venomous effort from the edge of Bournemouth’s area.
Buoyed by a positive start, Palace continued to press, Benteke the next to go close with a half-volley that slammed into the side-netting.
Palace debutant Patrick van Aanholt almost cost his side shortly before the half-hour mark, when his slack pass played in Josh King, but the Bournemouth forward could not apply the finish.
That chance boosted Bournemouth, and only a fortunate deflection off Dann prevented Stanislas’ long-range shot from putting the hosts ahead.
Palace remained a threat on the counter, though, Zaha forcing Boruc into an instinctive save before an unmarked Benik Afobe headed wide from a corner at the other end.
Boruc could do nothing to deny Palace the lead immediately after the restart, however, as Dann drilled home from point-blank range.
Van Aanholt could have made it a debut to remember five minutes later, but the Dutchman could only shank his first-time strike over at the culmination of a weaving Zaha run.
While King saw a header land on the roof of the net at one end, Palace continued to search for a second – James McArthur going close to doubling the visitors’ tally.
Francis should have levelled proceedings on 67 minutes as he got on the end of Ryan Fraser’s free-kick, but the defender could not generate the power to beat Wayne Hennessey.
However, despite a late glut of pressure in which Jack Wilshere rattled the post with a dipping free-kick, it was Palace who snatched a late second – substitute Townsend clipping a cross to the waiting Benteke, who duly headed home to wrap up the points in style.
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