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Crystal Palace 2 Stoke City 1: Gayle blows Stoke away

A second-half brace from Dwight Gayle steered Crystal Palace to a 2-1 comeback victory over Stoke City at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The visitors had led at half-time courtesy of a fine finish from Charlie Adam, but Gayle’s low drive and curling free-kick ultimately earned the south London side just their second league win of 2016.

The result also secured another season in the Premier League for Alan Pardew’s men, who still have an FA Cup final date with Manchester United to look forward to.

Stoke, meanwhile, have now gone six games without a win and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine.

A top-10 finish still remains within reach for the Potters, but manager Mark Hughes cut a frustrated figure in the dugout at the final whistle as his side’s miserable end to the season continued.

Palace began the brighter and came close to taking the lead after just three minutes when Yohan Cabaye’s 25-yard free-kick deflected off Xherdan Shaqiri and flashed narrowly wide of Jakob Haugaard’s right post.

From the resulting corner, Damien Delaney volleyed over the bar and moments later, a shot on the turn from Joel Ward drew the first save of the afternoon from Haugaard.

As the first half wore on, however, Stoke began to find some attacking fluency themselves, with Wayne Hennessey forced to pull off a smart save to foil Shaqiri after the Switzerland international had been cleverly played in by Marko Arnautovic.

And it was the impressive Arnautovic who created the visitors’ opening goal in the 26th minute.

The Austrian midfielder’s perfectly-weighted pass picked out Adam racing into the box and the former Liverpool man calmly angled his shot across Hennessey to find the bottom-left corner.

The home side almost mustered an immediate response as Gayle surged into the box, but his tumble under a challenge from Phil Bardsley was not deemed worthy of a penalty by referee Kevin Friend.

The lively Pape Souare was next to go close for Palace, volleying Ward’s fine cross wide of the target from close range.

Within 70 seconds of the restart, however, Palace did manage to find a way through.

Yannick Bolasie’s slaloming run took him to the edge of the box and when the ball broke loose, it fell kindly for Gayle who fired home.

Ten minutes later, Jason Puncheon almost put the hosts in front after a superb flicked pass from Gayle and Connor Wickham crashed a header against the outside of the post having been picked out by Souare.

Hughes’ response was to introduce Jonathan Walters and Stephen Ireland midway through the second half, but neither were able to make much of an impact as Palace continued to press for a second goal.

And it duly arrived in the 68th minute as Gayle curled a free-kick around the wall and Haugaard responded too late to prevent it from finding the net.

Gayle almost completed his hat-trick late on when he volleyed wide after more fine approach work from Bolasie, and Stoke’s chances of rescuing a point were gone when Arnautovic was guilty of a glaring missing, firing over a gaping goal from 18 yards having rounded Hennessey.

Sat 7 May, 2016
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