Steve Mandanda’s summer move to Crystal Palace was treated as a real coup by most of the club’s supporters, and following our victory at The Riverside Stadium, it seems the press are in full agreement.
Whilst Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha grabbed the majority of the headlines after they scored a goal a piece in our 2-1 triumph over Aitor Karanka’s men, further analysis has rightly shone a light on Mandanda’s stellar display between the sticks.
Having had little to do in the opening 30 minutes, Steve was at full stretch for what turned out to be Boro’s equaliser, but with Ayala’s header arrowing into the far left-hand corner of the goal at pace, the 31-year-old couldn’t have any blame attached to him over the hosts drawing level.
Following that, he stayed big to deny Negredo from putting Boro in front just before the half-time whistle after the powerful Spaniard rushed towards him at pace and fired a shot towards his near post.
The second 45 minutes were to bring two further big saves from him, one of which saw him fly across his goal line to tip a stinging long-range effort over the crossbar, whilst the second forced him to stay big at his near post to push a ball away amidst a spell of intense pressure from the Teesiders.
All in all, the big man’s inclusion in the BBC’s team of the week shouldn’t come as a surprise, but with Palace fans still hurting over Scott Dann’s omission from Sam Allardyce’s latest England squad, it feels a little strange to see one of our own getting recognition on the national stage.