Bakary Sako s first-half goal was enough to continue Crystal Palace s Premier League resurgence as they ground out a narrow 1-0 victory over Burnley at Selhurst Park. Roy Hodgson s side took a 21st-minute lead against the below-par Clarets when Sako picked up Christian Benteke s pass and fired an angled shot through the legs of James Tarkowski and past goalkeeper Nick Pope. The second half was devoid of any real chances for either side to kill the game, though Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes were presented with half-chances to force an equaliser for the visitors and Benteke headed over from close range. Palace s latest win lifts them to 12th in the Premier League standings, while Burnley remain seventh. The injury-hit Eagles tested the visitors from the start and were denied a penalty after Tarkowski lunged in on Sako inside the first 15 minutes, but that mattered little when the Palace frontman scored the opener after 21 minutes. Fed by strike partner Benteke, Sako drifted out to the left-hand side, jinked past Phil Bardsley as he entered the box, before hitting an angled shot past Pope. While Tarkowski looked shaky on a number of occasions, fellow centre-back Ben Mee made a key challenge three minutes later when he raced back to deny James McArthur a certain goal after Wilfried Zaha had chipped the ball over the onrushing Pope. The first half had been difficult for the Clarets in terms of chances created, and the second half continued in a similar fashion with the visitors unable to bring either Vokes or Barnes into the game to test Wayne Hennessey. Tottenham loanee Georges-Kevin N Koudou was introduced just after the hour mark and showed some flashes of the flair he is capable of, but as Sean Dyche s men rallied and to get themselves back into contention, Benteke came within inches of making it two. The Belgian frontman ghosted past Mee before pulling the trigger inside the 18-yard box, but Tarkowski s subsequent presence seemingly distracted him and he could only drive a shot into the side netting. Another stellar showing from the Manchester United loanee as he helped his loan employers to a second clean sheet in three Premier League games. The Dutchman put in a performance that defied his 20 years, winning an extraordinary seven tackles as the Eagles kept Sean Dyche s men at bay and ground out a narrow victory over this season s overperformers. Roy Hodgson: I have no desire in January to celebrate being in 12th place. The only thing that interests me is where we are on the final day, and being one place above the relegation zone. Anything else would be a huge bonus, especially having seven games, seven defeats and no goals. It s nice now that things are no longer looking so bleak, and we should enjoy that, but there will be lots more games like today where you do enough to merit the three points, and then suffer in the second half because a one-goal lead can always be cancelled out. Sean Dyche: I was pleased particularly with the second half today. I thought they were better in the first half and they played a very simple format but delivered it well in a 4-2-4, getting the ball forward quickly and looked a handful. But in saying that, we ve come a long way as a club and I was so pleased in the second half; we are on the front foot, we are going after teams away from home and that s a good sign of some of the work we ve done and the way the team has progressed this season. I ve been pleased with that but we ve got to get back to winning ways. Both sides are in action next Saturday afternoon, when Palace face Arsenal at the Emirates, while Burnley make the short trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
Fonte: SKY SPORT