Football: Ayew strikes again as Palace move towards safety with Watford win

Jordan Ayew (centre) scores for Crystal Palace. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Crystal Palace extended their winning run in the Premier League and moved into the top half of the standings with a 1-0 win over Watford, thanks to a first-half strike from Jordan Ayew at Selhurst Park on Saturday (March 7).

It was Palace's third consecutive league win after a winless seven-game run and it moved Roy Hodgson's side up to 10th in the standings - 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

"From 30 (points) to 39 in three games is a fantastic lift," Hodgson, who this week signed a one-year contract extension, told reporters.

"I have such faith and confidence in this team and I really can't see us letting that go and catapulting down the league, but you never know. Things do happen in football that no one can understand."

Ayew gave Palace the lead with their first shot on goal when James McArthur created an opportunity for him to take a shot from the edge of the box, beating the outstretched arm of Ben Foster in Watford's goal.

It was the second time in as many games that Ayew had scored the winner and he took his goal tally to eight goals this season.

"We signed him in the summer, but we paid money to loan him last season and he has shown his worth," Hodgson added.

"I think he has got stronger and we saw signs last season. I'm delighted for him."

At the other end, Vicente Guaita denied Watford twice in the space of three minutes in the second half, first tipping a stinging long-range effort from Troy Deeney over the bar before keeping out Abdoulaye Doucoure's looping header.

Christian Benteke came close to doubling the lead when he attempted one of his trademark bicycle kicks, but despite making good contact with the ball he could only find the side netting.

Watford won a corner in stoppage time to make for a nervy ending for the home support but Palace were able to hold firm to leave the visitors in 17th place in the standings.

"Today is a missed opportunity to pick up more points, because I think we did enough to get at least a point. But you have got to take your chances," Watford boss Nigel Pearson said.

"The goal we conceded, we could have done better with... It's never an easy game coming here. They are happy to defend deep. Our quality wasn't always there and our set plays needed to be better."

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