When Patrick van Aanholt was forced off through injury and replaced with Jairo Riedewald in the 65th minute, one would assume that not many inside Selhurst Park were expecting much from the former Ajax man.
Van Aanholt had left the field almost immediately after signalling that he had a problem, and with little notice that he was set to enter the fray, Riedewald was perhaps unprepared both mentally and physically.
The 23-year-old had made just two Premier League appearances prior to appearing against the Hammers on Boxing Day, and having failed to feature at all in the league under Roy Hodgson last season, Riedewald seems far from a favourite of the manager.
However, it was his vital contribution in the 87th minute that deserves as much praise as Jordan Ayew’s Goal of the Season contender just three minutes later.
87: Fantastic defensive work from Jairo to get in front of Snodgrass' close-range effort.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) December 26, 2019
After Aaron Cresswell cut the ball back nicely into the path of Robert Snodgrass in the dying embers of this London derby, it looked for all the world like the Scotland international would grab his second goal of the game.
The former Leeds man’s cultured left boot met the ball firmly, but the sound of the goal net springing upon impact was not heard, for Riedewald had thrown his body on the line to keep the ball away from Vicente Guaita.
It felt like it was the only thing that the Dutchman did after coming on. Statistically, his crucial intervention was amongst just a handful of contributions that involved 11 passes – all of them successful – as well as one clearance and 17 touches of the ball.
Despite that, his efforts enabled the south Londoners to reset and go again, where Ayew then momentarily allowed the spirit of Pele to possess his body before he waltzed through the Hammers’ backline and exquisitely dinked Roberto.
Many will presumably only remember Ayew’s moment of brilliance, but Riedewald’s heroic block deserves just as much praise.
In other news, see what Roy Hodgson had to say after his side were hit with yet another injury blow…