Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew was full of praise for Wilfried Zaha’s attitude after the winger came off the bench to win the decisive penalty in Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Watford.
Zaha was replaced by Dwight Gayle in Pardew’s starting XI for the Premier League clash at Vicarage Road but earned a penalty, which Yohan Cabaye converted, with clever play down the left within nine minutes of coming on for the subdued Bakary Sako.
The former Manchester United man has plenty of competition for a starting berth this term but Pardew was delighted with his response to being benched.
“Wilf took not starting very well and reacted in the best possible way. It was a lesson learned for him, he can’t let his standards slip,” Pardew explained.
“It was a great day. Our concentration levels were very high today and our two centre-halves did a super job. There was also some really good wide play and that ended up settling the game.
“It was a good finish. I wasn’t sure who would take it but I let Cabaye and Dwight sort it out and crossed my fingers.
“We’ve got good players for an away team, because we’ve got pace. But I said to the guys ‘don’t retreat today, take the game to them’.
“We didn’t concede any ground to Watford and in the end we found pockets to exploit. We have [Marouane] Chamakh and [Connor] Wickham injuries. They’re two major players, they’re like [Daniel] Sturridge and [Christian] Benteke at Liverpool for us.”
Pardew’s side earned a reputation as specialists on the road last season and have won three of their four away league fixtures this term to sit sixth.
“We find ourselves on 12 points before a game at home and we’ll try to exploit that,” the manager added, ahead of next weekend’s home game with West Brom.
“It was a good, professional performance and as the manager of the team that makes me happy.
“Last year the criticism of us at home was fair, though they were tough games in the second half of the season.
“We’ve got to make sure – at home – that we win against the teams in and around us.”