Patrick van Aanholt scored the only goal of the game 34 minutes in, when the former Sunderland fullback turned from his marker outside the penalty box, and curled a beautiful strike past the reach of Victor Valdes.
The visitors had chances to level the game, however the toothless Boro attack couldn’t find a way past a sturdy Palace defence, and a sharp Wayne Hennessey.
The win for Palace means that the both the Eagles and Middlesbrough remain just above the relegation zone on 22 points, with Leicester City now dropping into the bottom three with a game in hand.
Palace boss early on
Crystal Palace bossed the opening stages of the first half. The midfield three of Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Andros Townsend caused major problems for the Boro defence, with Zaha in particular looking very lively early on, making great runs through the Middlesbrough defence, however the final product was lacking, and Christian Benteke found himself too far away from where the former Liverpool striker should be.
Benteke could had put the Eagles ahead 12 minutes in, when a fantastic cross from Zaha found the head of the target man, however Benteke’s header from close range flew straight into the palms of Valdes.
Palace continued to mount pressure on the Middlesbrough defence, Zaha and Puncheon linked well to find holes in the Boro defence, and with Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic allowed to push forward, the Eagles dominated Middlesbrough in their own half.
The endless pressure paid off for Palace, as the Eagles took the lead on the 34th minute through January signing van Aanholt.
After a sloppy piece of play in the Boro penalty area, Cabaye controlled the ball down, and laid it off to van Aanholt, and the Dutch fullback brilliantly turned his man, and finessed the ball into the corner of the net, to score his first goal for the south London club, and to give Palace a deserved lead.
Palace put under pressure
That was Boro’s wake up call, and although Hennessey remained untested for the entire first half, the visitors from up north looked more determined to attack the Palace defence.
The second half started with Hennessey being called into action twice in quick succession for the hosts. The Wales international first dealt with a Gaston Ramirez free kick, the was easily caught by the Palace keeper, and Hennessey was called into action again moments later, as substitute Rudy Gestede tried to squeeze the ball past Hennessey at the near post, but the Welsh keeper was there again to catch the shot.
Christhian Stuani was next to test Hennessey, after a floated in cross fell perfectly to the Uruguayan international, but the striker’s well-hit strike was again dealt with by the Palace number 13.
Palace’s chances were severely limited in the second half since the visitors decide to push further up the pitch and limit the space available to the hosts, however the Eagles should had been awarded a penalty 76 minutes in, when James McArthur was clearly fouled inside the penalty area, however the referee signalled for a free kick to Middlesbrough, and dished out a yellow card for the Scotsman for a dive.
Van Aanholt’s goal proved to be the difference in the end, as neither side could add to the Dutchman’s beautiful goal in the first half, and Palace claimed the valuable three points in this six-pointer of a match