Alexander Sorloth’s first Crystal Palace goal sent the Eagles into the third round of the Carabao Cup at the expense of a young Swansea side at the Liberty Stadium.
The giant Norwegian striker – a £9million signing from FC Midtjylland in January – has had to play second fiddle to Christian Benteke since arriving at Selhurst Park.
But in a tight game he proved his worth to the London outfit by finishing off a Jairo Riedewald pass and break the resistance of a stubborn home side.
Alexander Sorloth powers his shot past Kristoffer Nordfeldt to break the deadlock
Sorloth (right) celebrates his first goal for Crystal Palace with Jonathan Williams (left)
Roy Hodgson cut a serene figure on the Liberty touchline before kick-off, but the former England and Palace boss was furious at the decision to play this game just 48 hours after his team were beaten at Watford.
He seemed keen to make his displeasure clear, making nine changes and naming only six substitutes. Swansea – who boast a wafer-thin squad this season – made 10 changes of their own, with their match day squad dominated by academy players.
The average age of their XI was not even 23. On paper it pointed to a predictable outcome, but the first half was an even contest.
Yan Dhanda of Swansea battles with Max Meyer (L) and Cheikhou Kouate (R) for the ball
SWANSEA: (4-2-3-1) Nordfeldt 6; Naughton 6, Harries 6, Cooper 6 (Reid 61, 6), John 6; Carroll 7 (Asoro 77, 6), Grimes 6; Byers 6; James 6, Dhanda 7, Baker-Richardson 5 (Cullen 77, 6)
SUBS NOT USED: McKay, Mulder, Maric, Lewis, Reid
COACH: Graham Potter
CRYSTAL PALACE: (4-4-1-1) Guaita 6; Wan Bissaka 7, Inniss 7, Kelly 6 (Ward 62), Schlupp 6 (Townsend 62, 6); Riedewald 7, Meyer 6, Kouyate 6, Williams 6 (Kaikai 77, 6); Puncheon 6; Sorloth 7
SUBS NOT USED: McGregor, Woods, Henry
GOALS: Sorloth (70)
COACH: Roy Hodgson
REFEREE: John Brooks
MAN OF THE MATCH: Alexander Sorloth
VENUE: Liberty Stadium
Dan James’ mazy run and shot wide for the hosts was followed by Jason Puncheon doing likewise at the other end, but Swansea’s youthful line up was impressing with some fluid passing.
Former Liverpool man Yan Dhanda was lively in the No 10 role and although Palace had half chances via Sorloth and Martin Kelly, the Premier League side were by no means dominant.
Courtney Baker-Richardson should have done better after a Dhanda shot was palmed out by Vicente Guaita, while James somehow missed the target when played into space once again.
Swansea also appealed for a penalty for what they thought was a Kelly handball and with Sorloth heading over, the two teams turned around level. James made it a hat-trick of good missed opportunities on the game’s resumption, but for all their impressive work to date, it was Swansea who were the ones who were tiring.
Kelly couldn’t keep an Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross down and although Palace finally seemed to be building up a head of steam, Hodgson had clearly seen enough.
He introduced winger Andros Townsend in search of a goal and while James went close yet again, Palace finally broke through.
Daniel James (left) is frustrated after the ball runs out of play in a goalless first half
Jason Puncheon tries to calm things down as Crystal Palace looked to break the deadlock
When the goal arrived, it was a simple effort. Riedewald – who turned down a summer move to Swansea as part of Jordan Ayew’s loan transfer the other way – found space down the left and his pass was inch perfect. Sorloth did the rest, firing across Kristoffer Nordfeldt and into the back of the net with his left foot.
The Swansea goalkeeper and captain might look back on things and reflect he could have done better. After that, it was all Palace. Max Meyer – who had been quiet – unleashed a brutal long range shot which Nordfeldt did well to save, but the visitors’ chances kept coming with Townsend among those to go close.
Swansea kept going, they huffed and puffed, and even though they couldn’t find a goal, Potter will have taken confidence from the performance of his young team with the Championship in mind.
Swansea boss Graham Potter gives instructions to his players during the League Cup tie