LONDON (AP) — Tyrick Mitchell’s first goal for Crystal Palace helped his team edge out Aston Villa 3-2 at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Sunday.
Roy Hodgson’s team trailed twice, through goals by John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi for Villa, but a spirited second-half rally saw the hosts recover.
Christian Benteke’s initial equalizer was followed up by goals after the break from Wilfried Zaha, via a deflection, and another academy graduate in left back Mitchell, who bundled in with six minutes left to earn Palace all three points.
Both sides made changes as they have little to play for this season, with Jack Butland handed a surprise start in goal by Palace for his first Premier League appearance in three years.
Jack Grealish started on the bench for Villa, who were missing Tyrone Mings and Matty Cash, and came on in the second half for his second substitute appearance since returning from three months out.
McGinn scored after a weak clearance from stand-in Palace captain Gary Cahill, which presented the Villa captain for the day with the ball and the Scotland international curled into the bottom corner with expert precision.
The Eagles responded well to going behind and recalled pair Jeffrey Schlupp and Andros Townsend tested Emi Martinez before Benteke came back to haunt his old club in the 32nd.
Mitchell produced a fine chipped cross into the area and Benteke needed no invitation to head back across goal and into the corner.
It was the Belgian’s ninth of the season and the third game in a row he had found the net, but parity would not last long.
Ollie Watkins’ flick header was perfect for El Ghazi to drill in from close range two minutes later after defender Joel Ward had been attracted to the ball.
A heavy touch from Martinez almost gave Palace a chance 30 seconds into the second half, but Benteke failed to profit from it.
The duo were involved again before the hour mark when the goalscorer was denied a second by a fingertip save from the Villa goalkeeper, with the crossbar also required.
Grealish was summoned by Smith with 26 minutes left and one of his first major contributions was to deflect a fierce effort from Eberechi Eze wide.
Palace was pressing for a second equalizer and while the arrival of center back James Tomkins on the field raised eyebrows, Hodgson also tweaked the formation following the substitution to a 4-4-2 and it paid dividends.
Zaha, who had been wide left, was now in the middle and drifted away from his marker to control a pass by Eze. After he worked some space, the Ivory Coast international saw a shot deflect off Ahmed Elmohamady and beat Martinez.
It was his 11th goal of the campaign — a personal best — and ensured he remain two clear of nearest challenger Benteke as the club’s top scorer.
With the game wide open now, Eze came within inches of the winner in the 82nd minute when he smashed an effort against the crossbar, but the third goal for Palace did arrive two minutes later and via an unlikely source.
After Zaha got to the byline and saw his cut-back only partially cleared, Eze’s shot into the ground was bundled in by the shoulder of Mitchell, who opened his account in professional football and earned the hosts a comeback victory.
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