Crystal Palace got their FA Cup campaign off to a winning start as Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta helped the London side in their comeback victory.
Patrick Vieira decided to go with a strong starting eleven rather than fielding a side full of fringe players. The selection decision eventually worked out in the French manager’s favour as his team staged a comeback victory over Championship side Millwall.
Former Arsenal striker Benik Afobe opened the scoring for Millwall after a howler from Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland, whose pass was intercepted by the forward and passed into the open net. The opening goal put a fiery twist in the tie as Millwall looked determined to hold on to the slender lead.
And they managed to do so heading into the tunnel at half-time. However, a minute into the second period, youngster Michael Olise equalised with a wonderful individual goal to set Crystal Palace on course for a comeback. The 19-year-old was influential all game and proved his mettle again later in the half.
Around the hour mark, Olise then turned provider by setting up Jean-Philippe Mateta for what would prove to be the winning goal. Here’s how the Crystal Palace players fared during their narrow win over Millwall.
South London is ours. pic.twitter.com/OHQUgTzzFp
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 8, 2022
Jack Butland: 4/10
Butland will have thanked Olise after the game for saving his blushes as he made a howler early in the match to allow Benik Afobe to open the scoring. After that, he was barely tested by Millwall’s attackers as Palace saw out a win.
Joel Ward: 4.5/10
It was not the best of games for Ward as he was caught out a few times by the Millwall players, which is not a good sign considering his importance to the side. Moreover, he looked to get into fights as the atmosphere was fiery.
Joachim Andersen: 6/10
While Ward was impatient in his game, Andersen was the exact opposite. Despite the referee allowing many fouls on the Dane, the centre-back played his natural game without being irked. Defensively, he kept things tight and helped keep Palace ahead late on.
Marc Guehi: 5.5/10
It was not Guehi’s best game in a Crystal Palace shirt, but he went about doing his work alongside Andersen. At times his passing looked erratic, and he will see better days ahead.
Tyrick Mitchell: 6/10
Mitchell was poor in the first period, just like the entire team, but came out of the blocks flying in the second half. He played a big role in the final third with some excellent passing and had a hand in the build-up to Olise’s goal.
Conor Gallagher: 5/10
After looking lost in the first half, Gallagher came to life in the final 45 minutes as he looked more involved. He always tried to drive his team forward whenever he had the ball at his feet.
Will Hughes: 5.5/10
Hughes played out of position in the holding midfield role and yet did his job decently. His positional change restricted his ability to take the ball forward and possibly denied his team moments when they could have attacked on the counter.
Jeffrey Schlupp: 3.5/10
Schlupp was barely in the game as he failed to get a foothold on the proceedings. He was sloppy with his passes, and some moments could have cost his team dearly.
Michael Olise: 8/10
Michael Olise's game by numbers vs. Millwall:
5 crosses (most)
3 shots (most)
2 take-ons completed (most)
1 foul won
1 chance created
Big performance from the youngster. ? pic.twitter.com/3aTKzMIs3Q
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 8, 2022
Olise was The Hard Tackle’s Player to Watch, and he duly delivered on the promise. The youngster was asked to step into some big shoes and produced a match-winning performance. He scored a brilliant goal to equalise and then set up Mateta for what turned out to be the winner.
Jean-Philippe Mateta: 6/10
Mateta’s overall game was still average, but he ensured his ultimate contribution made the difference. Had VAR been available, Olise’s goal might have been chalked off, for Mateta was offside, although he made the difference later when he nodded home the winner of the game.
Eberechi Eze: 6/10
Eze had a good game without having much influence on the proceedings. Yet his gameplay was decent, although when Palace had taken the lead in the second period, Vieira decided to take him off to protect the advantage.
Christian Benteke: 5/10
Benteke came on for Eze and had a good outing for the remainder of the game.
Odsonne Edouard: 5/10
Edouard had about 20 minutes on the pitch after coming on. He could have scored had he decided to shoot instead of passing the ball.
Luka Milivojevic: 5/10
Milivojevic had a decent run out for around ten minutes as Vieira looked to control the game and not allow Millwall to spring any surprises late on.
Jairo Riedewald: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Nathaniel Clyne: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
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