Premier League
Sheff UtdSheffield United0Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace2

Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Eze helps Eagles secure Premier League safety

By Ben CollinsBBC Sport
Christian Benteke scores against Sheffield United
Christian Benteke is enjoying his most prolific spell for Palace since the end of the 2016-17 season

Crystal Palace secured their Premier League status for another season with a comfortable victory at already-relegated Sheffield United.

Christian Benteke scored with a deflected shot after 66 seconds to claim his fourth goal in 10 games for Palace, and had chances to improve that tally.

The Belgian striker, 30, had a point-blank header saved by Aaron Ramsdale before firing against a post in the second half.

Captain John Egan spurned Sheffield United's best chance of an equaliser shortly after the interval, slicing over from a corner from six yards out.

But Ebere Eze broke forward late on to convert a second and secure the Eagles' first win in five games, putting them beyond reach of third-bottom Fulham.

That capped a fine performance by the English midfielder, 22, who breezed past Egan in the opening minute before laying off to Benteke, whose shot struck George Baldock and bounced over Ramsdale into the Blades' net.

Jeffrey Schlupp's cross then picked out Benteke, who is out of contract this summer, but he directed a free header too close to Ramsdale.

Benteke also struck a post after dispossessing John Fleck, while substitute Jordan Ayew twice went close to a rare goal.

And the Blades, who handed 17-year-old striker Daniel Jebbison his debut off the bench, offered little in response as their miserable season lurched closer to several unwanted records - such as most defeats and fewest goals scored in a Premier League campaign.

Impressive Eze again shows his potential

Ebere Eze scores against Sheffield United
Only Wilfried Zaha (12) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals for Palace this season than Ebere Eze (nine), who has a team-high five assists

Sheffield United are already preparing for life back in the Championship and, after securing a ninth straight season in the top flight, Palace are also set for a rebuild this summer.

Manager Roy Hodgson and half of the matchday squad at Bramall Lane are out of contract at the end of the season, or returning to their parent club.

An announcement is yet to be made on whether Hodgson, 73, will extend his lengthy managerial career or Palace will seek a replacement, but whoever is in charge at Selhurst Park next season, they can rely on the services of two of England's most promising youngsters.

The Eagles have signed Eze and Tyrick Mitchell, 21, to long-term deals and they could be mainstays in the Palace side for years to come.

Deployed in an attacking midfield role, Eze continued an impressive first season since making a £19.5m move from Championship side QPR.

He was central to most of Palace's best play, showing his pace and poise on the ball. He laid on the opener and dispossessed Chris Basham before firing narrowly wide.

In the first half, Eze also found Wilfried Zaha, whose shot was blocked by Egan, and he burst forward again to clinch victory. After breaking down the left, Eze cut inside, feinted past a couple of defenders and then scuffed a shot into the bottom corner.

Mitchell, meanwhile, was comfortable at left-back but for a clumsy tackle on Sander Berge, making his first start since December, which might have been given as a penalty.

Palace now need three wins from their last four matches to reach 50 points for the first time in a Premier League campaign. If Eze and Mitchell continue to develop, the Eagles will hope to be challenging for a top-half finish next term.

'We've got some very dangerous players' - what they said

Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Honesty cost us today - Paul Heckingbottom

Sheffield United's interim manager Paul Heckingbottom: "Aaron Ramsdale's been excellent while I've been in this job. Today was probably his best game yet.

"The bit I really like about these players is their honesty. It was there to see again for the full game but I think it cost us today. You don't get a free-kick if you don't go to ground now. We would have had a penalty if Sander Berge had gone down. The way the game is officiated is promoting that type of behaviour from players.

"Daniel Jebbison's got a lot of attributes. There's lots of good work going on behind the scenes. He gets on the end of things in the box but he's only 17 so a lot more to come from him. He did himself no harm today with the way he performed."

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: "I'm happy we bookended the game in terms of the goals but there was a long period in between where we played some very good football and created some very good chances. Unfortunately we weren't able to take them or found a goalkeeper in exceptional form.

"[Benteke] has had three difficult seasons before this one, and even the first part of this one, and hasn't been that lucky with injuries. Now we've had him available for a long period and I think he's got better and better. He's always worked hard for us and done the job, tactically, that we've asked him to do. But forwards need goals and when you're not getting them, unfortunately people will scrutinise your performance harshly.

"We've got players like Jeff Schlupp, Ebere Eze and Wilfried Zaha who, if we can get them on the ball behind the opposing team's midfield with space in front of them, they're very dangerous players. They're all good runners with the ball and that's something we were fortunate enough to do today.

"We've stayed well away from the relegation zone this season and, with a bit of luck, we'd have kicked on further. We had some injuries to key players. But we've got four games to get some more points on the board, and today it didn't look like a team that thought the season was over."

Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Roy Hodgson ‘very happy’ with Palace performance

Benteke's long-awaited return to form - the stats

  • Christian Benteke has scored more goals this season (seven in 27 games) than he managed in his previous three Premier League campaigns combined (six in 71 games).
  • Benteke (79 goals, 21 assists) became the fourth Belgian player to be involved in 100 Premier League goals - alongside Romelu Lukaku (148), Eden Hazard (139) and Kevin de Bruyne (118).
  • Benteke's opener (66 seconds) was Crystal Palace's earliest Premier League goal since James McArthur's strike against Everton in November 2017 (51 seconds).
  • In Premier League history only Derby County in 2007-08 (22), Leeds United in 1996-97 (21) and Huddersfield Town in 2017-18 (21) have failed to score in more games in a single campaign.
  • Palace were the 11th different side to complete a league double over Sheffield United this season - in Premier League history, only Derby County in 2007-08 have lost both league matches against more opponents (12).

What's next?

Palace are away to Southampton on Tuesday (20:15 BST) before hosting Aston Villa next Sunday (12:00), the same day Sheffield United visit Everton (19:00).

Player of the match

EzeEberechi Eze

with an average of 8.72

Sheffield United

  1. Squad number1Player nameRamsdale
    Average rating

    6.38

  2. Squad number38Player nameJebbison
    Average rating

    6.07

  3. Squad number17Player nameMcGoldrick
    Average rating

    5.39

  4. Squad number12Player nameEgan
    Average rating

    5.25

  5. Squad number6Player nameBasham
    Average rating

    5.16

  6. Squad number8Player nameBerge
    Average rating

    5.11

  7. Squad number23Player nameOsborn
    Average rating

    5.08

  8. Squad number2Player nameBaldock
    Average rating

    5.03

  9. Squad number29Player nameBryan
    Average rating

    4.87

  10. Squad number16Player nameNorwood
    Average rating

    4.85

  11. Squad number4Player nameFleck
    Average rating

    4.79

  12. Squad number3Player nameStevens
    Average rating

    4.71

  13. Squad number14Player nameBurke
    Average rating

    4.17

  14. Squad number7Player nameLundstram
    Average rating

    3.86

Crystal Palace

  1. Squad number25Player nameEze
    Average rating

    8.72

  2. Squad number20Player nameBenteke
    Average rating

    7.58

  3. Squad number24Player nameCahill
    Average rating

    7.49

  4. Squad number31Player nameGuaita
    Average rating

    7.41

  5. Squad number4Player nameMilivojevic
    Average rating

    7.39

  6. Squad number8Player nameKouyaté
    Average rating

    7.36

  7. Squad number27Player nameMitchell
    Average rating

    7.23

  8. Squad number2Player nameWard
    Average rating

    7.05

  9. Squad number10Player nameTownsend
    Average rating

    6.98

  10. Squad number15Player nameSchlupp
    Average rating

    6.90

  11. Squad number44Player nameRiedewald
    Average rating

    6.90

  12. Squad number9Player nameJ Ayew
    Average rating

    6.71

  13. Squad number11Player nameZaha
    Average rating

    6.63

Line-ups

Sheff Utd

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Ramsdale
  • 6Basham
  • 12Egan
  • 29BryanSubstituted forLundstramat 80'minutes
  • 2Baldock
  • 8BergeSubstituted forOsbornat 59'minutes
  • 16NorwoodBooked at 38mins
  • 4Fleck
  • 3Stevens
  • 14BurkeSubstituted forJebbisonat 65'minutes
  • 17McGoldrick

Substitutes

  • 7Lundstram
  • 13Lowe
  • 15Jagielka
  • 18Foderingham
  • 19Robinson
  • 20Bogle
  • 23Osborn
  • 24Brewster
  • 38Jebbison

Crystal Palace

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Guaita
  • 2WardBooked at 30mins
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 24Cahill
  • 27Mitchell
  • 25Eze
  • 4Milivojevic
  • 15SchluppSubstituted forRiedewaldat 71'minutes
  • 10TownsendSubstituted forJ Ayewat 75'minutes
  • 20Benteke
  • 11Zaha

Substitutes

  • 1Butland
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 6Dann
  • 9J Ayew
  • 14Mateta
  • 22McCarthy
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 34Kelly
  • 44Riedewald
Referee:
Simon Hooper

Match Stats

Home TeamSheff UtdAway TeamCrystal Palace
Possession
Home50%
Away50%
Shots
Home7
Away21
Shots on Target
Home0
Away8
Corners
Home5
Away11
Fouls
Home11
Away8

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Sheffield United 0, Crystal Palace 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Sheffield United 0, Crystal Palace 2.

  3. Post update

    Hand ball by Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United).

  4. Post update

    Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Gary Cahill.

  5. Goal!

    Goal! Sheffield United 0, Crystal Palace 2. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Gary Cahill following a fast break.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace).

  7. Post update

    Chris Basham (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Attempt saved. Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic with a cross.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by John Egan.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  11. Post update

    Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Sheffield United. John Lundstram replaces Kean Bryan.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic with a cross following a corner.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Enda Stevens.

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jordan Ayew replaces Andros Townsend.

  19. Post update

    Foul by George Baldock (Sheffield United).

  20. Post update

    Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

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