Swansea sub Angel Rangel wheels away to celebrate his late winner for the Premier League strugglers on Tuesday
New Swansea mgr Paul Clement (third left) was on the touchline to celebrate his side’s late winner in south London
On a night when Swansea recruited the man they hope will fight their fires, Sam Allardyce realised he might just need a bigger bucket if he is to put out the blaze at Crystal Palace.
Three games, no wins and a defeat Tuesday night against a side that had appeared to be hopelessly lost at sea. It wasn’t meant to be this way for Allardyce at Palace.
But then Swansea weren’t meant to suddenly awaken, not yet anyway. This was, technically, Alan Curtis’s last game as the caretaker — although how curious to see new manager Paul Clement take a place in the dugout just hours after signing a two-and-a-half year deal and moments after Alfie Mawson had headed them in front in the 42nd minute.
Five minutes before Rangel’s winner, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha had equalised with this impressive volley
The former United attacker jumps for joy as manager Sam Allardyce celebrates on the Selhurst Park touchline
Swansea defender Alfie Mawson (right) loses his marker to head the visitors into the lead in the 42nd minute
Prior to that goal, Palace thought they deserved a penalty when Benteke appeared to be caught by Lukasz Fabianski
Clement (centre), who was confirmed as Swansea’s new boss earlier on Tuesday, watches the action from the stands
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-2-3-1): Hennessey 7; Kelly 5, Tomkins 5, Delaney 6, Ward 6; Ledley 6, Cabaye 6; Townsend 5.5 (Sako 53, 6), Puncheon 5.5, Zaha 7; C Benteke 6.5 (Campbell 46, 6)
Subs not used: Speroni, Flamini, Lee, Mutch, Phillips
SWANSEA (4-3-3): Fabianski 6.5; Naughton 7, Fernandez 6, Mawson 7.5, Taylor 5.5 (Rangel 71, 7); Cork 6.6, Ki 6.5, Fulton 6 (Fer 69, 6.5); Routledge 6 (Dyer 80), Llorente 6.5, Sigurdsson 7
Subs not used: Van der Hoorn, Borja Baston, Nordfeldt, Barrow
Referee: Paul Tierney 4.5
MOM: Alfie Mawson
Tuesday 3 January
- Stoke2 – 0Watford
- Crystal Palace1 – 2Swansea
- Bournemouth3 – 3Arsenal
Monday 2 January
- West Ham0 – 2Man Utd
- West Brom3 – 1Hull
- Sunderland2 – 2Liverpool
- Man City2 – 1Burnley
- Everton3 – 0Southampton
- Middlesbrough0 – 0Leicester
Sunday 1 January
- Arsenal2 – 0Crystal Palace
- Watford1 – 4Tottenham
Saturday 31 December
- Liverpool1 – 0Man City
- Swansea0 – 3Bournemouth
- Southampton1 – 2West Brom
- Man Utd2 – 1Middlesbrough
- Leicester1 – 0West Ham
- Chelsea4 – 2Stoke
- Burnley4 – 1Sunderland
Friday 30 December
- Hull2 – 2Everton
Wednesday 28 December
- Southampton1 – 4Tottenham
Tuesday 27 December
- Liverpool4 – 1Stoke
Monday 26 December
- Hull0 – 3Man City
- Swansea1 – 4West Ham
- Man Utd3 – 1Sunderland
- Leicester0 – 2Everton
- Chelsea3 – 0Bournemouth
- Burnley1 – 0Middlesbrough
- Arsenal1 – 0West Brom
- Watford1 – 1Crystal Palace
Monday 19 December
- Everton0 – 1Liverpool
Sunday 18 December
- Tottenham2 – 1Burnley
- Man City2 – 1Arsenal
- Bournemouth1 – 3Southampton
Saturday 17 December
- West Brom0 – 2Man Utd
- West Ham1 – 0Hull
- Sunderland1 – 0Watford
- Stoke2 – 2Leicester
- Middlesbrough3 – 0Swansea
- Crystal Palace0 – 1Chelsea
Wednesday 14 December
- West Brom3 – 1Swansea
- Tottenham3 – 0Hull
- Stoke0 – 0Southampton
- Man City2 – 0Watford
- Crystal Palace1 – 2Man Utd
- West Ham1 – 0Burnley
- Sunderland0 – 1Chelsea
- Middlesbrough0 – 3Liverpool
Swansea made dominance pay when Alfie Mawson (No 6) headed in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick in 42nd minute.
Clement returned there in the second half as well, watching a side unrecognisable from the one that had blown the last four games with heavy defeats.
Even when they were pulled back by a quite magnificent bicycle kick in the 83rd minute from Wilfried Zaha, they looked so much better than normal.
But the climax? No-one saw that, with Angel Rangel smashing the winner via his half-volley a minute before the end. Perhaps leaving Bayern Munich won’t be so bad after all for Clement.
Curtis, with his final roll of the dice, made four changes in search of some kind of solution, bringing in Federico Fernandez, Jack Cork, Jay Fulton and Wayne Routledge and axing Jordi Amat, Leroy Fer, Leon Britton and Nathan Dyer.
Allardyce, meanwhile, recalled Damien Delaney to his defence and inserted Joe Ledley just in front as Scott Dann and Mathieu Flamini made way.
Palace’s problems haven’t been nearly as pronounced as Swansea’s, but they leak goals in the most stupefying ways. Swansea’s 5-4 win in the previous fixture between these sides showed as much in all its gory detail.
Sam Allardyce walks towards the home dugout ahead of what was his first home match in charge of the Eagles
Fernando Llorente, the Swansea target man, reacts in disappointment after seeing his early header go wide
Swansea enjoyed most of the possession in the opening 20 minutes – pictured is Gylfi Sigurdsson
Swansea striker Llorente brings down Andros Townsend with a reckless challenge to get a deserved yellow card
After a slow start to the game, Palace finally attack Swans’ goal but Yohan Cabaye’s effort is well saved by Fabianski
This game was a more subtle exhibition of the same point, with Palace coughing up three good chances in the opening 17 minutes alone.
In the first instance, Kyle Naughton bounced off two weak challenges and crossed for Fernando Llorente. James Tomkins and Martin Kelly made a hash of marking the same man as the header went wide.
Allardyce looked like a manager who has seen more than enough of the same weakness, while Clement must have sensed that in Llorente — a World Cup winning striker — he might just have a puncher’s chance.
It was the Spaniard who made the second chance, leading a counter-attack to the edge of Palace’s area, then seeing Ki Sung-Yueng to his left and Jack Cork to his right.
Townsend, formerly of Tottenham and Newcastle, vents his anger at linesman after failing to win a throw-in
France international Cabaye escaped a first-half booking when he caught Jay Fulton with this sliding challenge
Benteke appears to take a hit yet the Belgian is denied a penalty when he is caught by Fabianski
Palace playmaker, Jason Puncheon, remonstrates with Premier League official Paul Tierney as penalty wasn’t given
Zaha vents his frustration at fourth official Mike Dean, who endured a controversial night at West Ham on Monday
The home defence? Scattered in the wind, evidently. Llorente slid his pass out to Cork, but a poor touch led to a snatched shot.
Wayne Hennessey conceded a corner in making his save from which some more questionable marking allowed Ki a shot from 10 yards. He missed but Allardyce was getting agitated.
Federico Fernandez and Wayne Routledge then missed Swansea’s fourth and fifth decent openings of the half before a blunder from the former allowed Christian Benteke to reach a long punt from Hennessey. His touch took him past Lukasz Fabianski and the goalkeeper appeared to trip the Belgian. No penalty was given.
Palace raged — and with good reason — then rage turned to despair as Mawson headed Swansea ahead after 42 minutes, meeting a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick for his first goal for the club.
Benteke receives medical treatment after falling in build-up to that denied penalty, then gets substituted at half-time
Mawson was left unmarked to head home Sigurdsson’s free-kick as the Swans get the goal their performance deserved
The Swansea defender raises his right arm in celebration after scoring the first-half goal
Zaha, playing his last game before he jets off to the Africa Cup of Nations, is hunted down by Kyle Naughton
Palace’s French midfielder Cabaye (left) and Swansea’s Scotland Under 21 international Fulton compete for the ball
Eagles mgr Allardyce shouts instructions to his team during a second-half in which they were chasing an equaliser
Clement, who started the match from the stands, returned to the dugout in the second half to speak to his players
Another Palace goal conceded to a set-piece; a rare instance of Swansea leading a game. Clement responded by sitting in the dugout and then joined Curtis in the changing room for the half-time team-talk.
Across the corridor Allardyce hauled off Benteke and brought on Fraizer Campbell, before introducing Bakary Sako early in the half. The latter’s free-kick forced evasive action from Fabianski and from there Palace tightened their grip. They pressured Swansea, launched high and low balls at a defence notorious for buckling.
Zaha scored with his stunning strike but Swansea refused to give up and Rangel grabbed the winner — which must give Clement enormous hope.
And Allardyce? A different set of feelings altogether.
Zaha, who has been in stunning form for Palace this season, celebrates after equalising for Palace in the second half
But Zaha’s joy was to be short-lived as Rangel scored this effort in the 88th minute to seal a vital victory
The Spaniard flexes his muscles as he celebrates his late strike which secured a much-needed three points
Under-fire Premier League referee Dean was the fourth official for Tuesday’s clash between Palace and the Swans
The teams are welcomed by a light show and The Crystals cheerleaders
Newly-appointed Swansea mgr Clement walks pitchside with Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish prior to kick-off