Crystal Palace was enjoying a five game unbeaten run in the Premier League until West Ham pulled off an unlikely victory yesterday at Selhurst Park thanks to a first-half goal from Manuel Lanzini.
On the evidence of yesterday’s performance it looked as though the international break came at the wrong time for the Eagles, but the result might have been different if Christian Benteke converted a first-half penalty just before the interval.
It was quite a surprise the big Belgian missed the opportunity; in the week prior, he scored a hat-trick against Gibraltar whilst with Belgium, and coupled with his goals against Everton and Sunderland for Palace prior to the international break most of the ground expected Benteke to tuck the spot kick away.
But the blame cannot be laid solely at Benteke’s door, Palace for large parts of the opening half were not at the races, and ultimately Slaven Bilic’s side held on for a morale-boosting victory.
Pardew expected both Benteke to score and more ‘aggression’ from his side
After being on such a good run, Palace certainly came back down to earth with a bump yesterday. They struggled to find their rhythm in the first-half, and in the final third they couldn’t create that crucial opening.
Speaking about Benteke’s penalty miss, Pardew said: "I think it's a crucial moment, I was expecting him to score after the week he's had."
If the 25-year-old had converted the spot kick on the stroke of half-time, the game might have had a different outcome, but Pardew was more concerned about his side’s lack of ‘aggression’ in the opening 20 minutes.
"It's a derby and I expect more aggression and more brightness in that first 20 minutes, and that was a crucial part of the game," said Pardew.
Overall it was a disappointing evening for the SE25 club; they knew the Hammers had been on a poor run but it was their lacklustre start which gave Bilic’s side the platform to go on and win the game, and that was something that irritated Pardew: "We knew West Ham had been on a bad run but and we gave them a bit of a gee up with that goal. We missed the boat.”