Crystal Palace 1-0 Wolves: Eberechi Eze’s moment of brilliance the difference
 (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

After a first half of attritional football - where Nathaniel Clyne’s speculative effort was the only noteworthy piece of action - the second half came to life in south east London.  

Wolves' new signing, Willian Jose, had a glorious opportunity to give the visitors the lead on the 56th minute, but failed to squeeze his effort past a stubborn Vicente Guaita.  

Moments later, Crystal Palace sealed all three points.

Eberechi Eze received the ball on the edge of the area, danced his way past Leander Dendoncker and, from just outside the box, thumped his effort past Rui Patrício to earn his side the victory. 

Story of the match 

Following a harrowing performance against West Ham in midweek, Roy Hodgson rolled the dice with his lineup, making six changes to his team. One of those, Nathaniel Clyne, nearly opened the scoring on the 10th minute.  

The returning academy product, who recently signed a new contract extension, latched onto a Jordan Ayew pass just outside the area. Clyne hit his shot first time, but could only manage to see his shot sail inches over the bar.   

The first half was a dull affair, with neither side eager to commit bodies forward.

However, with Eberechi Eze operating in a central, nucleus position, Palace were moving the ball a lot quicker than they had done in recent weeks. 

Palace had been targeting Ki-Jana Hoever’s right-hand side for the majority of the first half, with Wilfried Zaha looking to exploit the inexperienced right-back.  

On the 40th minute, the bombardment nearly off.

Zaha dragged Hoever with him, as he darted through the heart of the pitch, leaving Patrick van-Aanholt in acres of space.

Van-Aanholt whipped a tantalising ball across the face of goal, which Willy Boly could only half clear to the edge of the area. The clearance fell to the waiting Clyne, who pounced to send a shot through a crowd of players, only to see the ball ricochet over the bar.  

After an equally matched first half, both teams came out at half time to add some intensity to the match.  

Willian Jose, who made his first appearance since joining on a sixth-month loan deal from Real Sociedad, nearly opened the scoring minutes into the second half. The Brazilian forward collected the ball on the halfway line and swept a pass out wide to Ki-Jana Hoever.  

The right-back marauded forward, beating Clyne for pace, and sending a cross into the area for Jose, who had darted into the box. The striker connected with a first time shot, with venom, but Guaita stood tall to help the effort over the bar.  

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Eze, who was thriving in a central role, broke the deadlock on the 60th minute.

He picked up the ball on the edge of the area, took one touch to shimmy past Leander Dendoncker, before emphatically thumping home a left footed shot from 20-yards, scoring his 3rd of the season and the opener of the match.  

Zaha came close to adding Palace's second only moments later, when Michy Batshuayi collected a loose ball in the centre circle.

The Belgian turned, looked up, and began to burst towards goal with Zaha alongside. With only Conor Coady to beat, Batshuayi played in the onrushing Zaha. The Ivorian cut inside of his left foot and proceeded to crash his effort of the bar.  

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Nuno Espírito Santo's side should have equalised on the 78th minute but were thwarted by a moment of brilliance from Guaita.

The Spanish goalkeeper used all his experience and instinct to get down low from a Willian Jose header, flinging a hand at the goal bound effort.  

As the wind swirled around Selhurst Park, Wolves had one more attempt to come away with a valuable point.

Adama Traore, who had caused havoc for the Palace defence since his introduction, whipped in a dangerous ball, that hung in the air for an eternity, into the box. Fabio Silva rose highest, but he failed to connect with the ball, much to the frustration of Nuno.  

Takeaways  

The formation causes frustration but has Hodgson found a winning formula? 

At Molineux in October, Palace struggled to cope with Wolves’ overlapping full-backs, as Rayan Aït-Nouri and Nelson Semedo enjoyed a field day against The Eagles overrun defence.

Similar, in the FA Cup tie in January, a much-changed Palace side also failed to deal with the pace that Wolves possess in wide areas.  

So, it was in no way surprising that today Wolves flooded the wide positions, trying to suffocate Palace’s defence into submission.  

Palace fans were crying out for a switch in formation prior to today’s game, hungry to see a team that will help combat the midfield struggles that Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur have been coming across.  
 
And finally, Hodgson switched to a 4-2-3-1.

The switch in formation opened Palace’s attacking fluidity in an abundance. Eze was playing as the driving force from the centre of the pitch, with Ayew and Zaha in support. 

Batshuayi was also causing trouble, holding up the play well and drawing bodies to him, allowing the trio behind him to take aim at goal.  

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Wolves still missing a focal point  

Wolves came into this game off the back of an impressive 0-0 draw with a buoyant Chelsea side, who were eager to showcase their talent to new boss, Thomas Tuchel, however, Wolves failed to build on that performance in south London today.

Willian Jose had two glorious opportunities to score on his debut but failed to beat the stubborn Palace defence.  

Traore, Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto caused havoc for Palace and looked dangerous on the counter-attack, but once they broke into the box, there was little movement in the box to breach Palace’s goal.   

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