By Rob Kelly
Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe both scored in injury time as we extended our winning run in the Premier League to four games - and crucially kept our hopes alive of securing European football for next season.
The Ivorian had given us the lead in the first half with a lovely finish at the end of a slick team move, before Christian Benteke equalised.
Just as it appeared we would be held to a frustrating draw, Martinelli popped up ion the 91st minute to put us back in front, and Pepe sealed the win late on with a fine individual effort.
This was a landmark occasion, with Eagles manager Roy Hodgson waving goodbye to Selhurst Park and 6,500 fans in attendance – but we were quickest out of the blocks.
In the first five minutes, two inviting crosses from the right threatened to give us an early lead as we passed and moved confidently, looking to pry open the hosts’ defence.
There was controversy when Jeffrey Schlupp was booked for an over-the-top tackle on Calum Chambers, and while VAR reviewed the incident, no further punishment was forthcoming. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was sent off here for a similar challenge last season, would have been entitled to raise an eyebrow.
We continued to push on, but soon Bernd Leno was called into action to save from James Tomkins and Schlupp, while Benteke blazed a header over the bar for Palace.
But just as it looked like the home side would take control, we made the breakthrough as superb interplay between Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney saw the latter cross for Pepe, who directed a volley into the bottom corner.
Benteke glanced one over the bar seconds into the second half, but just after the hour mark the Belgium international equalised as he headed in from a free kick.
The momentum of the game had changed, and the Eagles, roared on by their fans for the first time this season, started to pile on the pressure.
Jordan Ayew had a golden chance for the hosts in the closing stages, but Leno got down to save his close-range header, while seconds later Aubameyang poked Chambers’ cross wide at the other end of the pitch.
With results going our way, we needed a goal if we were going to take the fight for European football to the final day – and in the 91st minute it arrived as Martin Odegaard swung in a cross and fellow sub Martinelli raced in to score.
Pepe then sealed the win with a twisting run inside the box and a calm finish – and we’ll take the fight for European football to the final day.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
It’s our final match of the season on Sunday as we host Brighton with 10,000 fans back to Emirates Stadium.
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