Crystal Palace 3-2 Sheffield United: Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise star as pressure eased on Roy Hodgson

Eberechi Eze scored a pivotal brace for Palace (PA)
Eberechi Eze scored a pivotal brace for Palace (PA)

It is surely evident by now that Crystal Palace would not be languishing towards the bottom of the Premier League table if Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze had been fit throughout the whole campaign.

That much was certainly clear here, as Palace ended a run of just one win in 12 games by beating Sheffield United 3-2 in a home match that offered plenty of hairy moments but ultimately eased the pressure on manager Roy Hodgson.

Victory moved them up to 14th, six points above the drop zone. The question now is whether they build from it.

Palace were surely not lacking motivation here — at home to the side bottom of the Premier League table — yet their start could scarcely have been any worse any more quickly.

Sheffield United took just 22 seconds to score through Ben Brereton Diaz, his second in as many League games since joining on loan from Villareal this month. It was a calculated move straight from the kick-off, curated and finished off brilliantly.

Eagles fans in the Holmesdale Road Stand may have briefly pictured the ignominy of their team handing Sheffield United a very first away win of the season, but they continued their singing and chanting, and soon their side were level.

Olise, returning from his hamstring injury, cut onto his left, paused, and punched a delightful, clipped cross over the Blades defence and into the path of Eze, alive and alert to hang in the air and volley home.

Keen to build from this platform, Palace committed the age-old sin of piling too many bodies forward. Into the space they’d vacated leapt the visitors, with Oli McBurnie holding off Will Hughes and Joachim Andersen, before spraying wide to James McAtee. The Manchester City loanee’s shot bumped up off Marc Guehi’s foot and bobbled over Dean Henderson.

Hodgson rocked on his heels again. The stuff of nightmares was unfolding. He needed his creative duo to produce again. And so they did, again.

Olise searched for options, saw few, but span the ball into the centre for Eze. The England midfielder feigned to go with his right but pulled back, taking Vinicius Souza out the game, and curled a stunning strike into the top-left corner off his weaker left foot.

Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze stepped up for the under-pressure Roy Hodgson (PA)
Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze stepped up for the under-pressure Roy Hodgson (PA)

Perhaps since his ankle injury in November, Eze had not yet rediscovered his best level. His early goal had buoyed him here, though. The second was a beauty and it brought the hosts parity once more.

As Palace approached kick-off here, news had come through that relegation-threatened Luton were leading Brighton 2-0 after just three minutes. With that score-line reading 4-0 by the end, the need for Palace to claim all three points here could not have been clearer.

After the break, they duly set to work. Jefferson Lerma split the visitors’ defence, but Olise could only force a save from Wes Foderingham. Then Eze slipped Jean-Philippe Mateta through, only for the Frenchman to fire over.

There was no denying Sheffield United were under the cosh and Hodgson’s side beginning to assert their dominance, but there could be no predicting quite the style in which they mustered the lead.

The ball bounced out of the box off Jack Robinson, and in a single motion Olise caressed a left-foot volley which bent into the corner and flew in off the post.

It was a stunning finish from a player who rose to Hodgson’s aid with a double in Palace’s 3-1 win over Brentford in late December.

Once Anel Ahmedhodzic had made for a nervy finish by heading against the bar, it became clear Olise and Eze had clubbed together to save Hodgson’s face again.