Despite their recent rise back to the summit of English football, ‘Boro were the pre-match favourites to win the game having been unbeaten in their first three games.
However, a first goal in Palace colours for Christian Benteke followed by a Wilfried Zaha strike secured Palace a vital victory at the Riverside Stadium.
Here’s how each player performed as the Eagles climbed to twelfth in the Premier League table.
Player ratings (Players must play at least 15 minutes to receive a rating)
Steve Mandanda (7 out of 10): The former Marseille goalkeeper followed up two impressive displays for France over the international break by helping his new Club to victory. Made one superb stop from Alvaro Negredo just before half-time soon after Daniel Ayala had equalised for the hosts.
Joel Ward (6 out of 10): A much better performance from the full-back after a below-average start to the season. Still not quite at his very best but returning to his usual consistency will coincide with the South Londoners improving their poor defensive record.
Scott Dann (7 out of 10): The Club’s August Player of the Month was up to his usual high standards on Saturday afternoon, commanding the back four and contributing heavily to the win. His perfectly timed pass between the Middlesbrough lines found James McArthur whose pass eventually found the feet of Zaha who scored.
Damien Delaney (5 out of 10): Still very much the weak link in the Palace back four. Made Ayala’s task of heading the home side level too easy and almost cost his side another goal soon after when he was beaten for pace by the hardly rapid Negredo, only for Mandanda to expertly deflect the ball wide.
Martin Kelly (6 out of 10): Deployed at left-back in place of the injured Pape Souare and was key to the improved defensive performance. Was forced into one important clearance, clearing the ball away from right underneath the crossbar following a good save by Mandanda. Much better defensively than Palace’s usual Senegalese left-back but doesn’t quite have the same affect going forward.
Midfield copes with Cabaye
James McArthur (7 out of 10): Played his first full 90 minutes of the season following his return from injury and his presence was felt. Laid on the goal for Zaha and made several key tackles at vital moments when Palace were hanging on at the end.
Joe Ledley (6 out 10): A start is now a rarity for the Welshman but the recent poor form of Yohan Cabaye and his subsequent injury may allow the former Celtic midfielder to have a run in the team. Similar to McArthur, kept things tidy in the middle third and was important defensively. Replaced by Mathieu Flamini as the game edged towards its culmination.
Jason Puncheon (5 out of 10): An overly frustrating afternoon for the attacking midfielder. Was caught in possession several times, almost costing his side a goal at one point, and his passes were not up to their usual accurate standard. Will need to improve with a couple of attacking options returning to full fitness.
Front three excel
Wilfried Zaha (8 out of 10): The winger produced a performance reminiscent of his time back in the Championship where he seemingly treated the opposition like inferior classmates on a school playground. ‘Boro left-back George Friend struggled to cope with the twice-capped England international who had a big hand in both goals. His cross to Benteke was inch perfect and his finish to win the game was composed. Continued improvement in the final third is vital for a player who has just about everything else in abundance.
Christian Benteke (7 out of 10): Scored a personally much needed goal that will no doubt boost his confidence having now got off the mark in a Palace shirt. Rose above Ayala to loop a header over Victor Valdes. General play was superb and Palace fans have plenty to be excited about if the Belgian keeps up his impressive start.
Andros Townsend (6 out of 10): Slowly starting to find his feet at Selhurst Park following his summer arrival from Newcastle United and will become an important player for Alan Pardew’s side. Had one right-footed effort well saved by Valdes.
Lee Chung-yong (N/A): Replaced Townsend on 77 minutes so does not qualify for a rating.
Mathieu Flamini (N/A): Replaced Ledley to make his Eagles debut and was important in seeing out the win. However, only played six minutes so does not qualify for a rating.
Jonathan Benteke (N/A): Replaced his brother, Christian, on 89 minutes to make his Palace debut. Looks like he could be one for the future.