Crystal Palace made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League after Yannick Bolasie and Yohan Cabaye netted after half-time to see off a dogged West Brom 2-0 at Selhurst Park.
Returning to his former club, West Brom head coach Tony Pulis was uncompromising in his pursuit of a result, with defence very much the order of the day for a side that was yet to concede away from home in the league this season.
Despite losing Jonny Evans to a first-half hamstring injury, they extended that record until the 68th minute when Bolasie arrived at the back post to head home Cabaye’s beautifully floated cross.
The French midfielder got in on the act himself a minute from time, converting from the penalty spot after Wilfried Zaha – a constant source of discomfort for Albion on his return to the Palace line-up – was brought down by Chris Brunt
The result moves Palace up to third in the table ahead of Saturday’s remaining Premier League fixtures, while West Brom lie 15th and face the prospect of being dragged closer to the relegation zone.
James McArthur and Zaha came into the Palace line-up, with Joe Ledley and Bakary Sako making way, while Gareth McAuley replaced Jonas Olsson at centre-back for West Brom.
Albion right-back Craig Dawson was dispossessed in the fourth minute by Bolasie but the winger’s shot was too close to Boaz Myhill.
It was a shaky start from the visitors and Zaha cut in menacingly from the opposite flank to drag an attempt wide of the near post.
Evans limped out of the action to be replaced by James Chester after 24 minutes and there was another blow for West Brom’s Northern Ireland contingent shortly afterwards.
Brunt was caught by Zaha’s flailing arm when the Palace man closed down his shot from James McClean’s free-kick.
Unlike his international team-mate, Brunt played on despite heavy bleeding from the nose necessitating a shirt change.
Zaha continued to make Brunt’s afternoon an uncomfortable experience, twice skipping past him only to have his shots sharply stopped by Myhill before the interval.
Given West Brom’s limited attacking ambition, Saido Berahino could count himself unfortunate to be replaced by Craig Gardner at half-time.
The Palace pressure continued as Jason Puncheon fired over from the edge of the box, with Zaha once again marauding down the right.
The massed ranks of Albion defenders continued to intercept and block with determination and it required a moment of sheer quality for them to be breached.
Collecting a ball from Puncheon, Cabaye shuffled to his right and arched a cross towards Bolasie that got the finish it deserved.
After falling behind, West Brom lacked the personnel or the intent to impose themselves upon their opponents and a deserved second arrived for Alan Pardew’s men in the 89th minute.
Zaha had threatened to spoil his afternoon when he was booked for reacting angrily to a challenge from Claudio Yacob, but he regained his composure to torment Brunt once more – drawing the foul for Cabaye to add gloss to a clinical victory.
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