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Crystal Palace thrash Leeds United to boost survival bid

Crystal Palace boosted their bid for Premier League survival with a 5-1 demolition of relegation rivals Leeds on Sunday.

Roy Hodgson’s side erased Patrick Bamford’s first half opener with a superb display of counter-attacking at Elland Road.

Marc Guehi equalised just before the break and Palace turned on the style after half-time with emphatic finishes from Jordan Ayew, who netted twice, Eberechi Eze and Odsonne Edouard.

Palace’s first win at Elland Road since 2006 lifted them six points clear of the relegation zone, while Leeds remain just two points adrift of the bottom three.

The south Londoners were without a win in 2023 before Hodgson replaced the sacked Patrick Vieira until the end of the season.

Palace had gone three games without mustering a single shot on target in the final days of Vieira’s reign, but their biggest league win since 2020 showed Hodgson has already made a major impact.

Hodgson, in his second spell as Palace boss, had inspired an important 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Leicester in his first match and his second game was even more impressive.

“This was a good day. They won’t be good days forever. If I was a younger, less cynical person I might be enjoying it more than I am because I have an eye that we aren’t clear of the relegation zone,” Hodgson said.

“It was a very encouraging performance. We will congratulate ourselves on that but I hope the players understand you can’t just relax and enjoy this until you are out of the mire.”

Rampant Palace

Palace star Wilfried Zaha was sidelined due to a groin injury, an ominous absence given they had won only four of their last 33 league games without the Ivory Coast forward.

The early signs were not encouraging for Palace as Sam Johnstone, making his first top-flight appearance since 2021, had to repel Brenden Aaronson’s shot before leaping to his left to save Luis Sinisterra’s stinging strike.

Sinisterra was a constant menace in the first half and the Colombian tested Johnstone twice in quick succession from a pair of Luke Ayling crosses.

Leeds’ pressure was finally rewarded in the 21st minute when Bamford met Aaronson’s corner with a glancing header that bounced in off the far post.

Barely able to escape their own half before Bamford’s goal, Palace threatened when Jeffrey Schlupp headed against the post before Ayew’s effort was cleared off the line.

Leeds resumed their barrage, with Jack Harrison’s free-kick palmed away by Johnstone and Robin Koch’s header saved by the over-worked Palace keeper.

Pascal Struijk’s header forced yet another superb save from Johnstone moments later.

But somehow Palace survived the siege and snatched an equaliser in first half stoppage-time.

Eze whipped in a free-kick that Schlupp flicked towards Guehi, who got to the ball before Leeds keeper Illan Meslier and volleyed home from close-range.

Palace were energised by their leveller and took the lead in the 53rd minute.

Ayew had scored only once all season but he rose to meet Olise’s pin-point cross with a fine header that gave Meslier no chance.

Hodgson’s men had all the momentum and they struck again two minutes later as Eze found Olise, raced onto his return pass and slotted home from 10 yards.

With Leeds in disarray, Edouard drove in Palace’s fourth goal from Olise’s pass in the 69th minute and Ayew bagged the fifth with a close-range finish eight minutes later.

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