The sort of day that cannot just be shrugged off. Not one that will be easy to, either. Only mild booing at full-time, although Elland Road was barely half full by that point.
Leeds United, despite something of an upturn under Javi Gracia, were unfathomably bad. To illustrate this: Jordan Ayew scored his first ever brace in English football, eight years after arriving.
Two points remains the gap between them and the bottom three after this failure to capitalise on Nottingham Forest and Leicester City’s weekend woes. But also a failure to capitalise on their own performance, which had been stellar for around 40 minutes. Once Crystal Palace’s first went in, that was it. Leeds folded in a way they could do under Jesse Marsch.
It spells significant trouble with not the easiest run of fixtures to come. Even without Wilfried Zaha, when Palace are allowed space, their dangerous midfielders – especially the mercurial Michael Olise – can pick teams apart and it is now six points and seven goals for the Roy Hodgson renaissance.
That particular managerial change seems to have worked wonderfully, contrary to popular opinion of the appointment, and there cannot be too many occasions whereby an away Palace crowd has ever been able to “Ole” their way through the backend of any Premier League matches.
Patrick Bamford opened the scoring after 21 minutes but Crystal Palace began to fight back
Bamford took his Leeds tally up to 50 goals across all competitions against Palace
Marc Guehi was on hand to tuck home a loose ball in the area to draw the scores level
Guehi’s first goal of the season ensured Palace went in for half time level at 1-1
It could have been so different. At their best, Leeds play at breakneck speed and wore the look of a team who wanted this finished – Palace blown away – within the opening 20 minutes. Buoyed by victory over Nottingham Forest, in the tightest of relegation battles, there lived an eagerness to capitalise.
They did and they didn’t. Did in the sense that Patrick Bamford’s deft header from Brenden Aaronson’s corner, complete with a satisfying kiss off Sam Johnstone’s far post as it made its way in. Tyrick Mitchell found himself marking Bamford, and ended up three yards from his man, just as he did when Pascal Struijk saw a similar header smartly denied by Johnstone.
Leeds ought to have yielded more. An Aaronson flick, Luis Sinisterra drive wide, a Jack Harrison free-kick. All close, Johnstone – on his Premier League debut for Palace – also palming away from Sinisterra.
But it was only one. Palace had been startled, as teams can suffer at Elland Road, yet began finding bits of space for Eberechi Eze in midfield and moments of territory. Jeffry Schlupp somehow only found the post from inside the six-yard box at a corner, while Jordan Ayew glanced wide at a set piece, a miss that left Hodgson open mouthed.
Disbelief was to switch, quickly. Leeds imploded either side of half-time, conceding three times in the space of 10 minutes. The equaliser, in stoppage time, owned an element of farce, Eze’s centre flicked on in slow motion by Schlupp, Marc Guehi sizing it up far quicker than Illan Meslier. He nipped in before Meslier’s version of Superman – both fists flying through the air – could get anywhere near the ball. Hodgson remained unmoved.
There was no reset from the hosts; Palace appeared to possess an extra man. Luke Ayling’s wild clearance to halfway was reckless, possession turned over and before Gracia could throw arms in the air, Olise was being given amble room to find Ayew, who headed in only a second goal since last May. Unchallenged, as Ayling watched the jump.
Jordan Ayew rose highest in the area to put Palace ahead five minutes after the re-start
Eberechi Eze rounded off a slick move with Michael Olise to make it 3-1 a few minutes later
Eze took his personal tally in the Premier League up to five for the season
Odsonne Edouard added to Leeds’ misery as he calmly found the bottom corner from 15 yards
Javi Gracia looked infuriated with his team after a series of defensive errors at certain points
Ayew added his second and Palace’s fifth of the game after 77 minutes of play
Ayew was adjudged to have been onside after a lengthy VAR check
It was all smiles from Roy Hodgson after his the first win of his second spell with Palace
Leeds are left dangling two points above the relegation zone after the result on Easter Sunday
Hodgson has steered Palace to 12th in the table and they are six points above the bottom three
Two quickly became three, five minutes before the hour. By this point Leeds were shot. A vacancy in the middle of the pitch allowed Eze to progress unfettered, attempting a long one-two with Olise. Waved through, Eze waltzed and poked under Meslier.
Any response? Barely. A restlessness swirled, cries of frustration at failure to take the correct option at throw ins. Not doing things quickly enough, misplaced passes. Leeds poured forward attempting to fashion something, anything and forgot about what lay behind them. A sea of unmarked green.
Olise had the ball 80 yards from Meslier and yet Palace found themselves four on two. Without any great urgency, Olise languidly jogged for 60 of those yards before finally deciding he would let someone else have a go. Odsonne Edouard took one touch – not a particularly crisp one, either – and rolled into the far corner.
Amazingly, they were not done – even if Leeds were some time beforehand. Will Hughes was blocked when trying to shoot, the block falling into Ayew’s path. Sweeping in his second had never been so easy.