Crystal Palace cruised to a remarkably assured 3-1 victory over Valencia at Selhurst Park yesterday afternoon, thanks to goals from Connor Wickham and Mile Jedinak.
Despite the stellar reputation Valencia have across Europe, Alan Pardew’s men produced what was almost certainly their best performance of pre-season to run out comfortable winners in the South London sunshine.
If anyone wondered how well the players would adapt to the challenges posed by the Spaniards, it didn’t take long for the 13,000 strong crowd to have any nerves calmed by Connor Wickham, who gave us the lead in the ninth minute with a wonderfully well controlled volley from eight yards out after a cross into the box from the always energetic left-back, Pape Souare.
Despite some impressively intricate passing from Valencia in the minutes that followed, Wickham was to double the Eagles’ lead seven minutes before the interval when slotting home the rebound to a penalty that had been saved after some trademark trickery from Wilfried Zaha saw him brought down a few feet inside the 18-yard-box by a frustrated visiting defender.
The second 45 minutes proved to be a surprisingly spirited affair, but with Alan Pardew making a number of tactical changes shortly after the hour mark, it was a moment of link-up play between substitutes Luke Dreher and Keshi Anderson which won Palace their second spot-kick of the afternoon, prompting Mile Jedinak to power a strike into the bottom right-hand corner with minimum fuss and all but end the game as a contest.
Valencia would go on to get one back in the 82nd minute after a powerful shot from Valderrama got a deflection and flew past a helpless Julian Speroni, but it did little to shift momentum away from the home side who saw the victory out with minimum fuss in the closing stages.
It’s now less than a week until we get our Premier League season underway at home to West Brom, but if we play anything like we did yesterday afternoon, we’ll have an extremely good chance of coming away with all three points.