LONDON (AFP) – Christian Benteke marked his return from suspension by scoring his first goal of the season as Aston Villa ended their nine-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Victory saw the Birmingham club move above Palace and into 12th place in the table, with Paul Lambert’s side now five points clear of the relegation zone following this success in a low-grade encounter in south London.
Belgian striker Benteke, back following a three-game ban for a red card against Tottenham Hotspur, broke the deadlock in 32nd minute at Selhurst Park when he dispossessed Palace defender Scott Dann some 45 yards out and then surged forward before beating Eagles’ goalkeeper Julian Speroni with a shot into the corner.
Victory was Villa’s first since a 1-0 win at Liverpool on September 13.
Defeat left Palace just two points above the bottom three and in danger of being drawn into the relegation dogfight.
Neil Warnock’s side saw plenty of the ball but, frustratingly for the home team, Wilfried Zaha repeatedly failed to find the final pass that would have undone Villa’s suspect defence after making good ground.
The result was all the more disappointing for Palace given their commendable performances in beating Liverpool 3-1 and then drawing 1-1 away to Swansea in their two previous matches.