Football: Impressive Palace win relegation battle at Huddersfield

Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring their second goal from the penalty spot.
Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic celebrates scoring their second goal from the penalty spot.PHOTO: REUTERS

HUDDERSFIELD, England (REUTERS) - Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace ended a seven-game winless run and moved out of the relegation zone after an accomplished 2-0 win at fellow Premier League strugglers Huddersfield Town on Saturday (March 17).

Palace were full value for the victory having taken the lead in the 23rd minute through James Tomkins before skipper Luka Milivojevic's 68th-minute penalty secured the win.

The victory moved Palace up to 16th place, on 30 points, a point behind Huddersfield, who are 15th, and with bottom pair Stoke and West Brom losing, it was the perfect day for Hodgson and his team.

For David Wagner's Huddersfield it was, however, a worrying result ahead of two more relegation six pointers at Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion.

The return of Wilfried Zaha to the Palace starting line-up after over a month out with injury not surprisingly had a positive impact.

Without Zaha Palace had slipped back into the relegation zone, losing their last four games.

Indeed, such is Zaha's influence that throughout the campaign Palace have not won any of the nine matches he has missed and Hodgson will be hoping the knock that forced him off late in the game is not serious.

The visitors posed the greater threat in the first half with Zaha lively on the left flank, Christian Benteke dominant down the middle and Andros Townsend inventive on the right.

The lead came from a corner from early substitute Yohan Cabaye with Huddersfield's defence failing to clear and Tomkins poking home at the second attempt.

Huddersfield were posing little threat with lone striker Steve Mounie getting little support while Palace's defence looked solid with Mamadou Sakho impressive.

Palace felt, with some justification, that they should have had a penalty in the 55th minute when Benteke went down as Mathias Zanka pulled on his arm but referee Mike Dean waved away the appeals.

Tomkins went close to another goal but Mounie cleared his effort off the line as Palace pushed forward.

The second came, with an air of inevitability, when Zanka's lunging challenge brought down Townsend inside the area and Milivojevic confidently drove home the penalty.

It took a fine save from Huddersfield keeper Jonas Loessl to keep out a well-crafted effort from Cabaye as Palace, brimming with confidence, stayed on the front foot on a day which may turn out to be crucial in their bid for top-flight survival.