English Premiership

Late Sako goal sinks Villa

Crystal Palace's Bakary Sako, right, and Aston Villa's Idrissa Gueye (AP)
Crystal Palace's Bakary Sako, right, and Aston Villa's Idrissa Gueye (AP)

London - Bakary Sako struck a late winner on his Crystal Palace debut as Alan Pardew's men beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Selhurst Park to secure their second win of the Premier League season on Saturday.

Following a dire first period, the game sprung to life with Palace taking the lead after 71 minutes via Scott Dann's header from a corner.

But Aston Villa levelled in fortuitous circumstances six minutes later after Adama Traore's shot took a wicked deflection off Palace left-back Pape Souare and past home 'keeper Alex McCarthy.

But just as the match looked like ending all square, Palace struck the decisive blow three minutes from time.

Villa's French defender Jordan Amavi gifted the ball straight to Dann who teed up Malian international Sako to fire superbly past Brad Guzan.

The result sees Palace record their second win in three league outings this season and will be a relief to home supporters who have seen their side lose 13 times at Selhurst Park in all competitions in the past 12 months.

It's Pardew's 12th Premier League victory in 21 matches since taking over at Palace from Newcastle United last January.

In contrast, it's now two defeats in succession for Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa after their 1-0 opening-day win at Bournemouth.

Villa stifled Palace in a first half devoid of any quality but Pardew's double half-time substitution - Dwight Gayle and Jordon Mutch replacing Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray, who is subject to a bid from rivals Bournemouth - sparked the hosts into life.

Just after the break, Mutch sent in a teasing cross for ex-Wolves man Sako who just failed to connect before Palace had a goal ruled out when Gayle set up James McArthur, who had just strayed into an offside position before as he finished.

The deadlock eventually came 19 minutes from time when Jason Puncheon's inch-perfect corner was met by a firm header from Dann with Guzan in the Villa goal left with no chance.

But Villa - against the run of play - hit back with a superb piece of play from new signing Traore.

The Spaniard, a £7m signing from Barcelona this month, burst into the area before attempting a square ball which took a big deflection off hapless Palace defender Pape Souare and into the net.

But the Londoners - who lost this fixture 1-0 last season to a Christian Benteke goal - weren't to be denied and hit the winner when Villa new-boy Amavi passed straight to Dann, the centre-back then played in Sako who became an instant hero with Palace fans by slotting in the winner.