A second-half Dwight Gayle double sealed the three points for the Eagles, cancelling out Charlie Adam’s first-half strike.
Gayle, playing in a wide midfield position in place of the injured Wilfried Zaha, will feel he has staked a claim to be involved in his side’s upcoming FA Cup final clash with Manchester United thanks to two well-taken goals.
Despite the positive result and the adulation of finally being mathematically safe, Palace will be sweating over the fitness of midfielder Yohan Cabaye ahead of the final after the midfielder was withdrawn at half-time after suffering an injury. His replacement, Joe Ledley, also limped off injured but manager Alan Pardew admitted that he should recover in time to play in the club’s first FA Cup final for 26 years.
Attacking team selection signals Palace's intent
Pardew fielded an attacking team against Mark Hughes’ side, with Gayle, Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham all given starting roles. James McArthur made just his second start since the beginning of February, partnering Cabaye in central midfield.
The attacking intent was clear from kick-off as the Eagles piled the pressure on the Stoke back four, with Bolasie and Gayle particularly threatening in the early stages.
Gayle was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty within the opening ten minutes when he capitalised on a mix-up between Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross, before the latter appeared to trip the forward as he advanced through on goal. However, referee Kevin Friend waved away the protests.
Stoke finally grew into the game having been camped in their own half of the pitch for much of the first 15 minutes of the game. Peter Crouch had the Potters’ first meaningful effort when he headed a corner towards goal, but Wayne Hennessey gathered the ball with ease.
Mistakes in defensive third costs Eagles the lead
The defensive frailties that have cost the Eagles on so many occasions this season began to show as Hennessey had to be at his best to deny Xherdan Shaqiri after a simple through ball had taken all four Palace defenders out of the game.
Stoke were not to be denied, though, as excellent hold-up play from Marko Arnautovic led to the Austrian putting Adam through on goal, and the Scottish midfielder shot low and beyond Hennessey to give his side the lead heading into half-time.
Pardew joked in his post-match speech at Selhurst that the supporters sitting behind the dugout labelling his side’s performance as ‘rubbish’ were correct, but he praised his side’s attitude as they turned the game around in the second-half.
Gayle key to second-half turnaround
It took the Eagles’ less than 90 seconds of the second period to bring the game level when a mazy run from Bolasie ended with him being felled by Cameron, but Gayle picked up the loose ball to place the ball into the bottom of the Stoke goal.
Having won a free-kick, Gayle dusted himself down to whip the resulting set-piece into Jakob Haugaard’s top corner to give Palace their first Premier League victory since 9 April.
The result leaves the Eagles mathematically safe in the top-flight and they will begin their fourth consecutive Premier League season in August.
Pardew’s side face a trip to Southampton next Saturday knowing the outcome will be meaningless, which means the Palace boss can finally plan ahead for the cup final on 21 May.