Crystal Palace maintained their terrific start to the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-0 win over a defensive-minded West Brom.
Yannick Bolasie, the winger who Alan Pardew rates in the £60m bracket, made the breakthrough with a close-range header on 68 minutes, but it was man-of-the-match Wilfried Zaha who stole the show after Palace had dominated the Selhurst Park clash.
West Brom managed just one shot on target and were firmly second best in the capital, as the hosts dominated possession and peppered Albion’s goal with 21 goal attempts.
Tony Pulis’ visitors had not conceded a goal away from home and for all Palace’s possession they looked on course to maintain that proud record with a dogged defensive display until Albion failed to clear a corner and Yohan Cabaye clipped in an inviting ball to the back post and Bolasie was there to head home from inside the six-yard box.
Makeshift full-back Chris Brunt then felled the impressive Zaha just inside the box and Cabaye (89) stepped up to fire high the penalty high into the net – sending Boaz Myhill the wrong way.
Baggies manager Pulis, returning to Selhurst Park for the second time since leaving on the eve of last season, set his stall out to maintain that record, with his side frustrating the Palace attack for large periods.
But, in the likes of Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Bolasie, Pardew has a trio who can unlock most defences and that was the story here as the latter scored his first goal of the campaign and his first at Selhurst Park since New Year’s day 2013 in a victory over Wolves in the Championship.
The warning signs for Pulis’ men was quick in coming as Congo international Bolasie was involved from the start, cutting in from the left but shooting straight at Myhill.
Zaha was the next to try his luck, picking up a long pass from Puncheon but only able to hit the side-netting once he had burst into the box.
West Brom had started out resolutely at the back but were hit by another injury to their defence as Jonny Evans was replaced after 25 minutes before Chris Brunt was caught in the face by an accidental elbow from Zaha, forcing him off for treatment on a bloody nose.
Cabaye, the match-winner at Watford last Sunday, tried his luck with a swinging volley but again it was too close to Myhill to cause the Baggies stopper any concern.
The reshuffle at the back for the visitors opened up the chance for Palace to push forward and Zaha finally tested Myhill with a close-range shot the goalkeeper pushed behind for a corner.
Moments later and it was almost a carbon copy as the England winger skipped past Brunt before drawing another smart stop out of an increasingly busier Myhill – who got through to half-time with his clean-sheet in tact.
Referee Jonathan Moss was unmoved when Palace wanted a penalty as Cabaye’s free-kick struck the arm of half-time substitute Craig Gardner inside the box before Palace’s pressure finally paid off as Bolasie timed his run perfectly to head home Cabaye’s cross as the back post.
Zaha was booked for an altercation with Claudio Yacob but moments later he showed why he is back in Pardew’s good books as he burst past Brunt to earn a penalty just as he did at Watford – with Cabaye again on hand to convert from 12 yards.