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Zaha and Benteke lead the way as Palace rout poor Hull

EAGLES SOARING: Wilfried Zaha (extreme) celebrates the game's opening goal

IT ALL came down to down to one big game of high stakes down at Selhurst Park, where Crystal Palace knew if they avoided defeat they would stay in the Premier League, while Hull City knew that anything other than a win would send them down due to their inferior goal difference.

The Eagles seized the moment as they put a poor and overwhelmed Hull side to sword. In home manager Sam Allardyce’s programme notes he said: “ We have to handle the pressure that occasions such as these bring and so do you fans.”

Within three minutes of the game Andrea Ranocchia made a mistake in the away defence as he lost the ball to Wilfried Zaha who bore down on goal and calmly slotted it past Eldin Jakupovic to give Palace an early lead and help calm the nerves of the Palace faithful.

For City, who knew that nothing short of a win would keep them up, it was the worst possible start. Shortly after that, from a corner kick, James Tomkins headed the ball just wide of the Hull goal.

In the 34th minute home captainJason Puncheon floated a corner into the Hull area, which was met by a simple header from Christian Benteke, which flew in to double Palace’s lead and put them firmly in charge of this game, with the visitors now staring down the barrel. The Tigers proved to be toothless and did not offer much of a threat in a first half ended 2-0 to Palace.

At the start of the second period City boss Marco Silva sent Shaun Maloney and Jarrod Bowen on for Rannocchia and Andrew Robertson. Shortly after that he had to make his last substitution when Curtis Davies replaced the injured Harry Maguire.

Benteke nearly scored a third as he brought down a cross-field pass from Zaha but fired wide. With less than ten minutes of the game left Jeffrey Schlupp was brought down by Michael Dawson in the area.

Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot for a penalty. Luka Milvojevic stepped forward and sent Jakupovic the wrong way to put the nail in Hull’s coffin and confirm Palace’s stay in the Premier League for another season.

Right at the death, second half substitute Patrick Van Aanholt was played in and he slotted the ball past Jakupovic to make it 4-0. At the final whistle the Hull City players slumped to the ground with the realisation that they have to get acquainted to life in the Championship next season.

Allardyce kept his record of never being relegated intact as he worked his magic yet again. Next season he will surely have a different agenda and objective of taking them to at least mid table.

As for Hull City, this day had been coming for a long time and it was not an accident. It started the day Steve Bruce left the club after he realised that he would not be supported with funds to strengthen the team, after he brought them up via the play-offs.

Silva did his best but ultimately their poor form away form cost them dearly as they make a quick exit back to the English football’s second tier.

Allardyce said: “The concentration in the transfer market was the key element in our turnaround. The acquisitions made the difference.

“We stopped conceding goals and started winning games. Our win at Chelsea - who were top of the league - gave us a great lift.

“The way we saw Hull City off today really pleased me. We did not give them a sniff, chance or hope today under enormous pressure in front of our fans.

“We can get ready for Manchester United where there is no pressure for us. The next level of recruitment is important to how consistent the team can be.”

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