Whilst the result has already been put well beyond any doubt when Mike Dean pointed to the spot in the final minute of Palace’s victory over Leicester City on Saturday, the scene which played out on the pitch in the immediate aftermath was almost certainly the most heartwarming of our entire season so far.
Following 90 minutes in which Roy Hodgson’s players had put the Foxes to the sword in utterly ruthless fashion, Christian Benteke was fouled inside the penalty area by Harry Maguire before picking himself up off the turf and being convinced by Wilfried Zaha, Patrick van Aanholt and most importantly Luka Milivojevic, to place the ball on the spot and smash home his first home goal of the 2017/18 campaign.
Given the circumstances which surrounded his missed spot kick at home to Bournemouth back in the dark days of of December, it was no surprise to see the Belgian so reluctant to break rank and take the ball away from the Serbian powerhouse but with the entire stadium in a sense of collective delirium following a three minute spell in which we had taken our lead from 2-0 to 4-0, it felt only right to give the big man a stress-free shot at personal redemption in the final few moments.
To his credit, Christian moved away from the casual penalty technique that has caused him such anguish at times this term, preferring instead to hit his effort high and hard into the centre of the net and despite slipping as his foot connected with the ball from 12 yards, it flew past Ben Hamer to give both he and the club’s supporters a fairy-tale ending to what already felt like the perfect performance.
Whether or not that goal leads to a change in confidence for the big man remains to be seen but judging by the reaction of his teammates and the 25,000 odd fans in attendance, the striker still has the backing of many in SE25.
— Tony Hall (@tgh316) April 28, 2018
— Jack BB Clayton (@JackBBClayton) April 28, 2018
— Fïve Year Plan (@FYPFanzine) April 28, 2018
— Mr Palace 🦅 (@NkwembeMr) April 28, 2018
— Ben McCarthy (@BenMcCarthy76) April 28, 2018