Wilfried Zaha spared Crystal Palace’s blushes against Brighton in the Premier League as he opened the scoring at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Roy Hodgson’s side took the lead with what proved to be their only shot of the game, a penalty, before Brighton bounced back with a 90th-minute equaliser from substitute Alexis Mac Allister.
Zaha, 27, scored from the penalty spot to bag his seventh goal against Brighton, which is the highest number of goals he has scored against one opponent in all competitions. The spot-kick was awarded after Michy Batshuayi was brought down in the box by Tariq Lamptey – but replays seemed to suggest that there was hardly any contact at all, although Palace will hardly complain.
The 17-cap Ivory Coast international, who earns wages worth £130,000-per-week, has now scored four goals so far this season, which is the same amount that he managed to score in the Premier League last term.
SofaScore gave him a grade of 6.7, which is fairly average, and doesn’t quite give him the credit that he deserves – in fact, it wasn’t for want of trying, as a look at his heatmap shows that he was active in most areas of the pitch, particularly on the left wing, whilst he took 44 touches of the ball, registered a pass accuracy rating of 74%, won one out of two aerial duels, and made one tackle and one clearance as well. Solid effort, that’s for sure.
Sky Sports gave Zaha a 7/10 rating, whilst football.london awarded him a rating of 6/10, claiming he “stayed cool to convert from the penalty spot in the absence of Luka Milivojevic” but “looked frustrated in the first half, especially with one heated exchange with the linesman after a decision (rightly) went against him.”
After a bright start to the season, Palace have suffered back-to-back defeats, with their last win being the 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford last month.
If anything, this game shows that Hodgson still has a lot of work to do despite the summer spending spree, as Zaha cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of responsibility. The Palace boss simply cannot afford to lose his most prized asset if his side are to push for a place in the Europa League, that much is for certain.
AND in other news, Crystal Palace may live to regret missing out on Watford winger Ismaila Sarr…