From Merseyside to South London, the goal milestones just keep on coming this season, as yet another player reached a half-century of Premier League strikes this month. This time it was Crystal Palace icon Wilfried Zaha who reached the big 50, following in the footsteps of West Ham’s Michail Antonio who achieved this milestone in August, and Watford’s Josh King who reached it just last weekend.
By far and away Palace’s all-time top scorer in the Premier League era, Zaha has been the cornerstone of their rise from a Championship mid-table side to Premier League regulars for the best part of a decade now. Although a move to Manchester United early in his career failed to yield the desired results for Zaha, the winger re-joined Palace during their second season back in the big time and he hasn’t looked back since.
Having become the first player to net 50 Premier League strikes for the Eagles, we now look back on some of the 29-year-old’s finest goals in a Crystal Palace shirt.
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The Best 5 goals from Wilfried Zaha
1. First goal: Vs Newcastle (30th August 2014)
After making a miraculous escape from relegation in early 2014, Crystal Palace received a massive boost for their second successive Premier League campaign when promotion hero Wilfried Zaha returned to the club on a permanent deal, and it didn’t take him very long to make the desired impact.
In the third match of the season, Palace and Newcastle played out a thriller at St James’ Park, with the hosts looking like they had snatched victory with Mike Williamson’s 88th-minute goal. However, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, a Crystal Palace free kick fell to Zaha in the centre of the Newcastle penalty area, and the Ivorian struck a fine half volley into the far corner to secure a draw in dramatic style.
As well as being Zaha’s first Premier League goal, it also brought Palace their first point of the new season.
2. 50th goal: Vs Manchester City (30th October 2021)
After spending four seasons under the stable management of Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace are enjoying a new lease of life with new boss Patrick Vieira at the helm, and Zaha certainly played his part as this new-look team achieved a stunning win over Manchester City on Saturday.
A high press forced City defender Aymeric Laporte into a mistake, and a quick exchange between Zaha and Conor Gallagher saw the former race into the box and squeeze a shot beyond Ederson and into the far corner. It set the South London side on their way to a stunning win, which was amazingly only their second in the league so far this season.
It’s shaping up into a promising season for Zaha and co. in South London.
3. Best goal: Vs Swansea City (3rd January 2017)
Zaha’s exceptional dribbling abilities have brought a number of fine solo goals down the years, notably against Huddersfield in 2018, but a strike of a completely different nature stands out as his finest ever in the Premier League.
During the final ten minutes of a clash against Swansea in early 2017, a cross from the right found Zaha in the centre of the box, who struck a Zlatan-esque volley from around 15 yards out that flew into the far corner of the net past a motionless Lukasz Fabianski.
It turned out to be a disappointing night for the hosts as they fell to a late 2-1 loss to the Swans, but it shouldn’t detract too much from Zaha’s greatest goal in a Palace shirt.
4. Most important goal: Vs Chelsea (14th October 2017)
The beginning of Crystal Palace’s fifth consecutive season in the Premier League was an all-round disaster, with the South London side getting off to a nightmarish start under the brief tenure of Frank De Boer and looking like relegation certainties.
With zero goals and points to their name by mid-October, things looked unlikely to change when the team came up against reigning champions Chelsea at Selhurst Park. In a time of desperation, it was unsurprisingly the talismanic Zaha who lit up the show. Picking the ball up on the left-hand side during the first half, he drove into the Chelsea penalty area, shimmying past Cesar Azpilicueta before rolling the ball into the far corner past Thibaut Courtois.
It was only the team’s second goal of the Premier League season and proved to be the catalyst for a remarkable win as the Eagles overcame their London rivals 2-1. In the end, Palace gradually gathered momentum and survived comfortably, but it could’ve been very different without Zaha inspiring them at a crucial turning point.
5. Most memorable goal: Vs Brighton and Hove Albion (14th April 2018)
Despite being a London-based side, it’s well known that Palace’s fiercest rivalry is contested with South Coast outfit Brighton and Hove Albion, and in 2018 the two sides met in the top flight at Selhurst Park for the first time since 1981.
In a chaotic start to the contest, Palace were 2-1 up by the 18th minute and soon after Zaha bagged his second goal of the game, which would eventually prove to be the winner. From virtually nothing, a deep cross from Luka Milivojevic found the head of Zaha in the Brighton box, and Palace’s number 11 launched himself at the ball to power a brilliant header past Mat Ryan.
Amidst all the great moments he’s had with Crystal Palace, scoring the winning goal over your main rivals in the top flight for the first time in over a generation has to be near the very top.
Not only that, the 3-2 victory triggered a late burst of form for Palace, as the team won four of their last five matches to leave the relegation zone behind and finish in a lofty 11th place.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.