Wilfried Zaha created the opener and scored the winner to inspire Crystal Palace to a 2-1 Premier League victory over Middlesbrough at Riverside Stadium.
Alan Pardew’s men were winless heading into Saturday’s away game, while Middlesbrough had been unbeaten after three matches.
Palace were calling the shots right from the start, though, and did more than enough to bag their first win of the 2016-17 campaign.
Zaha was key for the visitors, setting up Christian Benteke’s first-half opener with a sublime cross, before pouncing on a mistake from George Friend after the break to deliver the win.
Daniel Ayala had restored parity in between both Palace goals, finding the net with a superb header after a corner, but Middlesbrough failed to bounce back from going a goal down a second time as they were beaten for the first time this season.
Palace opened the scoring after just 16 minutes when Benteke found the net following a fine cross from Zaha. The winger sent in a diagonal cross after Middlesbrough had needlessly given away possession and Benteke beat Ayala to the ball as he headed past goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The away side continued to be the more dangerous of the two and Andros Townsend was unfortunate not to double the lead mid-way through the first half. Zaha danced past two opponents down the right before reaching Benteke with a low cross, who in turn laid it off for Townsend. The winger did not hesitate and fired a shot toward the top corner, only for Valdes to deny him with a sublime save.
Middlesbrough struggled to create much before the break, but managed to level the scoring against the run of play in the 38th minute via Ayala. The centre-back was at fault for Palace’s opener as he was outjumped by Benteke, but he made amends with a goal of his own as he headed home the equaliser after a corner from Stewart Downing.
The home side could even have gone 2-1 up in the dying seconds of the first half after Viktor Fischer sent Alvaro Negredo clean through on goal, but Palace shot stopper Steve Mandanda proved to be too much of an obstacle, pushing his shot wide for a corner.
Palace made a strong start to the second half and needed just two minutes to restore their lead via Zaha. Friend failed to adequately deal with James McArthur’s throughball and Zaha showed no mercy to pounce on the defender’s mistake with a clinical finish from inside the area.
Aitor Karanka’s men threatened via long-range strikes from Downing and Ben Gibson, while they had a penalty shout turned down when Scott Dann seemingly handled the ball inside his own area.
Middlesbrough were also fortunate not to concede a third, however, when Dann nearly found the net after a corner from Jason Puncheon as it ended 2-1 for the visitors, with late Palace debuts for Mathieu Flamini and Jonathan Benteke – who replaced his brother Christian.
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