LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - Crystal Palace played Sam Allardyce’s trademark counter-attacking game almost to perfection in the 4-0 rout of Hull City at Selhurst Park on Sunday that secured their place in the Premier League for another season.
Palace allowed Hull to have close to 70 percent possession but were strong enough at the back against a weak attack to dominate the game and exploit the attacking skills of their more talented forwards.
They were helped by a defensive blunder from Hull’s Andrea Ranocchia that allowed Wilfried Zaha to steal a goal in the third minute, but they had already weathered an attack from the visitors who needed to win to stand a chance of maintaining their own top-flight status.
Allardyce’s sides have typically flourished as tough defensive units that are also quick and dangerous on the break and that is the mould he has sought to use at Palace.
He pointed out in his programme notes that the point with which Palace started every match, including Sunday afternoon, had to be defended above all else.
“I’ve been stating to everyone over the last few months -respect the point,” said Allardyce, signed in late December to take charge of a struggling team on the basis of a reputation enhanced by saving Sunderland from the drop a year ago.
“If we can’t win the game then don’t lose it,” he added with a phrase that could be his mantra.
James Tomkins has been a good signing as a steadying influence in central defence, a good reader of attacking moves but also not afraid to blast the ball high into the stands if that is what is required.
Frenchman Johan Cabaye has recovered his best form, threading balls through to Palace’s attacking talents, Zaha and Belgian international Christian Benteke, who headed Palace’s second goal from a corner. “The way we saw Hull City off today really pleased me... the way we counter-attacked. We really didn’t give them a sniff,” Allardyce told reporters after Hull failed to have a single clearcut chance on target.
“We did the job perfectly well under enormous pressure. It brings a great end to what’s been a difficult season,” he added. (Editing by Toby Davis)