Football: Rondon gives Pulis a winning return to Palace

West Bromwich Albion's Salomon Rondon celebrates scoring his goal.
West Bromwich Albion's Salomon Rondon celebrates scoring his goal.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Salomon Rondon's 74th-minute header earned West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis a 1-0 victory on his return to former club Crystal Palace on Saturday's (Aug 13) Premier League opening day.

The Venezuelan striker glanced in a free-kick from substitute James McClean to give West Brom a first league victory in 10 attempts.

It was a disappointing start to the season for Alan Pardew's Palace, last season's beaten FA Cup finalists, whose tally of 16 points in 2016 is lower than any other English top-flight team.

Palace visit London rivals Tottenham Hotspur next weekend, while West Brom welcome Everton to The Hawthorns.

Both teams had new players on show in the Selhurst Park sunshine.

Andros Townsend started for Palace following his close-season move from Newcastle United, but Yannick Bolasie had to make do with a place on the bench amid speculation linking him with a move to Everton.

Pulis, who left Palace on the eve of the 2014-15 season, gave a debut to winger Matt Phillips, his only signing of the transfer window to date.

France international goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, signed from Marseille, started on the bench for Palace.

The man who he hopes to dislodge between the posts, Wales international Wayne Hennessey, gave an early demonstration of his talents with a fine save low to his left to repel Rondon's header.

In a low-quality first half, it took Palace 30 minutes to hit the target themselves, Townsend taking aim from distance with a shot that trickled straight to West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Palace finally prised West Brom open in the 53rd minute when Lee Chung-Yong freed Wilfried Zaha, but Foster thwarted the former Manchester United winger and reacted sharply to block his follow-up effort.

Pulis turned to his bench, sending on McClean for Gardner, and it was to prove a triumphant substitution.

With 16 minutes to play, the Irish winger whipped a free-kick into the box from the right and Rondon headed home to get West Brom's season up and running.