Crystal Palace eased their own relegation fears with 2-0 win at Selhurst Park – a result that condemned Huddersfield Town to the Championship.
The Eagles have found goals hard to come by at home this season but were gifted the chance to break the deadlock when Juninho Bacuna carelessly fouled Wilfried Zaha in the 75th minute.
Luka Milivojevic converted from the spot for his 10th goal of the season, easing the concerns of the home fans after an otherwise frustrating performance from their side.
Palace secured all three points in the 88th minute, Patrick van Aanholt showing his team-mates how to finish by slotting a low drive underneath goalkeeper Ben Hamer.
With Burnley and Southampton both winning on Saturday, Huddersfield now
know they will drop down a level at the end of their second season in the top flight.
The Terriers’ future has been confirmed with six games remaining, meaning they join Derby County as the only clubs to be relegated from the Premier League before the end of March.
Huddersfield had their chances to grab the crucial first goal and extend hopes of a miraculous escape, only for home goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to twice deny Chris Lowe in the first half.
Palace’s poor finishing appeared set to give Jan Siewert’s side a stay of execution, Andros Townsend guilty of the worst miss when he inexplicably dragged wide with a clear sight of goal.
However, Palace finally located the net thanks to set-piece specialist Milivojevic, with Van Aanholt adding a late second as Roy Hodgson’s team claimed a much-needed result that lifts them eight points clear of 18th-placed Cardiff City.
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 30, 2019
What does it mean? Time up for goal-shy Terriers
Huddersfield marked their Premier League debut with a stunning 3-0 win at Selhurst Park in August 2017. At the same venue just over 18 months later, their footballing fate was sealed.
Relegation was always a matter of when, rather than if. However, the game summed up their season as a whole – they defended stoutly for the majority of proceedings but could not score, meaning they have still managed just 18 league goals in 2018-19.
Zaha demonstrates his influence again
Palace left the field at half-time to a smattering of boos after a tepid performance but perked up after the break, thanks mainly to their talisman.
Having seen Townsend waste his good work by firing wide, Zaha drew a foul that was quickly spotted by referee Lee Probert. He then also provided the assist for his team’s second goal, setting the overlapping Van Aanholt free.
Townsend fluffs his lines
Former Tottenham and Newcastle United winger Townsend is enjoying the best season of his career in terms of goals, yet he was unable to add to his tally of seven despite having five attempts.
His failure to convert with only Hamer to beat looked set to be costly – he also blazed well wide when latching onto a Christian Benteke header – until Bacuna’s ill-timed challenge spared his blushes.
Key Opta facts
– Huddersfield Town have been relegated with six games to play – the joint-earliest in terms of games in the Premier League era (Derby County – 2007-08 and Ipswich Town – 1994-95).
– The Terriers have failed to score in 38 of their 70 Premier League games (54.3 per cent) – the highest such percentage in the history of the competition.
– Crystal Palace have scored nine penalty goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
– Jan Siewert is the first permanent Premier League manager to lose his first five away matches in the competition since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2013-14, when the Norwegian was Cardiff City manager.
– Wilfried Zaha has won more penalties than any other player in the Premier League this season (5).
Crystal Palace have the opportunity to be the first visiting side to play a league fixture at Tottenham’s new stadium on Wednesday, while Huddersfield will be playing only for pride when they host Leicester City next weekend.
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