Football: Dwight Gayle double ensures Crystal Palace's survival

Dwight Gayle celebrates with James McArthur after scoring the second goal for Crystal Palace.
Dwight Gayle celebrates with James McArthur after scoring the second goal for Crystal Palace.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Crystal Palace forward Dwight Gayle struck twice to clinch a 2-1 win over Stoke on Saturday (May 7) that guaranteed the FA Cup finalists will avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Alan Pardew's side knew a draw would be enough to secure their top-flight status and allow them to focus on their first FA Cup final appearance for 26 years against Manchester United at Wembley later this month.

Initially it seemed they might have to wait until the last weekend of the season to ensure their survival as Charlie Adam opened the scoring for Stoke in the first half at Selhurst Park.

But Gayle equalised two minutes after the interval and struck again midway through the half to secure only Palace's second win in 20 league games.

Palace began in lively fashion and Yohan Cabaye's deflected free-kick fell just wide.

But Stoke, now winless in their last six matches, absorbed the pressure and former Liverpool midfielder Adam stunned opened the scoring in the 26th minute.

Giannelli Imbula picked out Marko Arnautovic and he laid the ball on for Adam, who slotted past Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey for his first goal of the season.

Palace had little response and a ripple of boos rang out at the half-time whistle, but the home fans were in better spirits two minutes into the second half.

Joe Ledley replaced injured French midfielder Cabaye and the hosts were back on level terms when Yannick Bolasie twisted one way then the other before the ball fell kindly for Gayle to fire home.

Palace were suddenly back in charge and Jason Puncheon shot just over after a neat flick from Gayle before Connor Wickham's header grazed the woodwork.

They took the lead in the 68th minute after Gayle, fouled by Ryan Shawcross, dusted himself down to curl a fine free-kick past Stoke goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard.

Stoke's best chance of an equaliser fell to Arnautovic, but after he rounded Hennessey, he blasted over the bar with the goal at his mercy.