By Mark Walker, PA
Crystal Palace produced a stunning fightback to sink relegation rivals Leeds 5-1 at Elland Road to climb six points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
Palace were outplayed in the first half but went in level at the break after Marc Guehi cancelled out Patrick Bamford’s opener for Leeds against the run of play.
Palace struck twice in three minutes early in the second period through Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze and Leeds capitulated, with Odsonne Edouard and Ayew’s second completing a remarkable turnaround.
THERE'S YOUR PALACE#CPFC | #LEECRY pic.twitter.com/S579eqXHGL
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) April 9, 2023
The Londoners, in veteran boss Roy Hodgson’s second game in charge since his return to the club, struck five league goals on the road for the first time since December 2020.
It was an afternoon to forget for Leeds, who remain 16th, two points above the drop zone, and few saw a heavy defeat coming after they had made their habitual barnstorming start.
Luis Sinisterra flashed a low angled shot inches wide and Sam Johnstone was forced into early action in his first league start for the visitors.
The Palace goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep out Brenden Aaronson’s flicked effort and fisted away another shot from Sinisterra.
Leeds took a deserved 21st-minute lead when Bamford deftly headed home his 50th goal for the club in all competitions from Aaronson’s corner.
The home side were given a let-off soon after when the unmarked Jeffrey Schlupp headed Eze’s corner against a post and Ayew’s follow-up effort was blocked.
Johnstone denied Leeds a second with a flying save to keep out Jack Harrison’s free-kick before Palace threatened again when Ayew headed another corner narrowly wide.
But Johnstone was by far the busier goalkeeper. The free summer signing from West Brom next kept out Pascal Struijk’s goalbound header before Palace struck an unlikely equaliser.
Eze’s free-kick deflected off Schlupp and Guehi reacted quickest, with his close-range finish ruled onside after a VAR check.
A three-goal first-half lead would not have flattered Leeds, but Palace then turned the game on its head, stunning the home crowd with two goals in three minutes early in the second period.
Ayew outjumped Ayling to head home Michael Olise’s right-wing cross to make it 2-1 in the 53rd minute.
That became 3-1 in the 55th after poor Leeds defending as Olise slipped in Eze, whose run into the box went unopposed, and he toe-poked the ball home.
Leeds poured forward in a bid to salvage the game, but were caught out again on the counter-attack in the 69th minute as Edouard raced on to Olise’s pass and rifled a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Ayew made it 5-1 to Palace with his second goal in the 77th minute, ramming home from eight yards, after Will Hughes’ blocked effort fell into his path, to make it back-to-back wins in Hodgson’s second spell in charge.