Crystal Palace confirmed their place in the Premier League next season with a resounding 4-0 thrashing over fellow strugglers Hull City, who were in turn relegated to the Championship next season.
In a match that determined the futures of both teams, Palace quickly and easily got the start they wanted as Hull’s Italy defender Andrea Ranocchia missed a simple clearance, allowing Wilfried Zaha to run clear and slot beyond goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic for Palace’s first goal.
With the wind in their sails, Christian Benteke’s header then doubled Palace’s lead while late goals from Luka Milivojevic, from the penalty spot, and substitute Patrick van Aanholt, completed a rout of the Tigers, who failed to register a shot on target on Sunday.
This meant that Hull will join Sunderland and Middlesbrough in the Championship next season, while Swansea City, who were bottom of the table and four points from safety at the start of 2017, stay up.
But that was not to say that Crystal Palace were not without their problems. They came into the game on the back of three consecutive defeats, leaving their survival in the balance — but once Zaha pounced on Ranocchia’s mistake to score Palace’s quickest league goal in three years, there were little doubts left who was staying in the League.
As for Hull, they had been heavily affected by the loss of £10m midfield summer signing Ryan Mason to a fractured skull as well as Scottish midfielder Robert Snodgrass, who remains the club’s leading league scorer this season with seven goals, joined West Ham for £10.2m.
Even after Marco Silva took over with the club rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table and despite six wins in eight home games, the Portuguese failed to mastermind an away win in nine attempts.
“Today we came here to play one final and we started in a bad way,” Silva said after the match. “It gave Palace what they wanted for the match. They knew what was in it for them.”
“We tried but conceded again and it finished the game. We tried to make changes at half-time for a small reaction. Possession is not enough. You have to take the right decisions. At this level it makes a difference.”