Eberechi Eze starred as Crystal Palace crushed Leeds United in a comprehensive 4-1 win at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Palace went ahead after Scott Dann headed in Eze’s corner before the 22-year-old scored his first goal in just his fourth league start for the club with an exquisite free kick to extend their lead over Leeds.
An unfortunate own goal from Helder Costa saw the Eagles take a two-goal lead, until Jordan Ayew secured the victory with Palace’s fourth from a pass from Wilfried Zaha.
Whilst Zaha was back to his very best, Eze just made everything look easy from start to finish. As we’ve mentioned before, we found the Palace boss’ latest comments rather baffling, which is perhaps why it’s hardly surprising that his unpredictability gave Hodgson’s side a significant advantage. In fact, the England U21 international was the most vital cog in the win over the Whites.
Speaking after the game, Hodgson heaped praise on his new charge for his performance. He told the club’s website: “I think apart from the free-kick, I thought his whole performance was very good.
“I don’t think you could fault him in any way; I don’t think you could fault his defensive work – certainly couldn’t fault anything he did on the ball, and of course the goal for me was the icing on the cake.”
Per SofaScore, the 22-year-old received a super high statistical rating of 8.8 – he scored a goal and supplied an assist, produced two key passes, created one big chance, and completed 28 out of 33 passes (85%), whilst he won eight out of twelve duels overall (66%), was fouled three times, and made five tackles, four interceptions and wasn’t dribbled past at all, which just goes to show that he contributed defensively as well.
90Min gave him a grade of 8/10, claiming “it was an inch perfect free-kick, but more broadly, his movement caused all sorts of problems all afternoon”, whilst football.london gave him a similar score, saying he provided “a beautiful corner whipped in for Dann to grab the opener, and he followed it up with an absolutely stunning free-kick to make it 2-0” with “some nice passing in the first half as well.” Quite some showing by anyone’s standards.
Once hailed as an “exciting” talent by journalist Taylor Rockwell, Eze made 46 appearances for Queens Park Rangers in the Championship, scored 14 goals and supplied 8 assists, whilst he averaged 2.2 shots, 1.8 key passes and 3 dribbles per game, via WhoScored.
Given his age, the speedster, who currently earns wages worth £30,000-per-week, could become a regular first-team starter for Hodgson’s side in the years to come, as he has shown he is more than capable of hitting the ground running in the top flight. It’s about time he was given the time to shine, which is something that the 73-year-old has struggled to give him so far.