Crystal Palace substitute Eberechi Eze punished bottom club Sheffield United with a superb solo goal as the Blades set another unwanted record.
Jeffrey Schlupp had already opened the scoring with a deflected finish before the Ghana winger went off injured.
That paved the way for Eze to come on and the former QPR forward doubled the lead before half-time, starting his run from inside his own half and finishing from 18 yards after evading a couple of challenges.
Sheffield United offered little going forward and by failing to beat Palace in their 17th match of the season, Chris Wilder’s team set the record for the longest winless start to a Premier League campaign.
The Blades finished the game with 16-year-old substitute Antwoine Hackford on the pitch, the youngest player to appear for the club in the Premier League.
Eze warming to Premier League
After five games without a victory, this was a welcome return to winning ways for Roy Hodgson’s Palace with the highlight undoubtedly Eze’s exceptional goal.
The 22-year-old forward has adapted quickly since making the step up from Championship club QPR on a five-year deal for £19.5m in August.
Eze’s first Palace goal was a sublime free-kick against Leeds in November. His second was just as pleasing on the eye.
Blades boss Wilder was furious his players did not close down the former Arsenal youth player but Eze’s calm and composed finish, after running half the length of the pitch, was delightful.
It capped a solid team performance as Palace put the memory of recent heavy defeats by Liverpool and Aston Villa behind them with a first clean-sheet win since the opening weekend of the season.
With the January transfer window about to open, Paris St-Germain and AC Milan are the latest clubs to be linked with Wilfried Zaha and the Ivory Coast forward played a part in his side’s opening goal.
He also set up a good chance for Christian Benteke, who later went off injured, before getting involved in an unnecessary spat with Jayden Bogle after failing to win a free-kick.
But Palace’s season, after a couple of hiccups, is up and running again as they get ready for three straight away games against Wolves, in the FA Cup, followed by Arsenal and Manchester City in the Premier League.
Blades sinking fast
Wilder was clearly upset with his players for not stopping Eze as he galloped away to score at the end of the first half.
Having recorded a number of positive coronavirus cases during the latest round of testing, they were also without several players because of injury and suspension.
They were so depleted they could only name six substitutes instead of the usual nine, while Bogle was handed his first Premier League start since arriving from Derby in September 2020.
Shortly before Palace’s second goal, Vicente Guaita denied Bogle with a good save but the Blades offered little serious threat going forward and managed just two attempts on target.
With Tottenham (home), Manchester United (away) and Manchester City (away) to come in January, the picture is getting bleaker by the week in terms of staying up.
Wilder’s side have collected just two points all season and are 12 from safety but there was some positive news for the Blades boss.
Hackford, aged 16 years and 288 days, looked bright when he came on and was denied a goal in the 90th minute when Joel Ward blocked his effort.
‘Harsh league when you’re off the pace’ – what they said
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: “I have seen some very good goals recently but they have been against us so that has been the problem.
“It was nice to see one for us for a change because a lot of the goals we have conceded, in particular against West Ham and Liverpool, were incredible finishes.”
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: “We’re obviously disappointed with the stats. It’s a harsh league to be in when you’re off the pace. It’s tough but there’s no hiding place for me or the players.
“We had nine unavailable, which even if we were in League One, that would have hurt us. Yet again another game where both penalty boxes have decided the game and we’ve not been good enough in both.”
Sweet sixteen – the stats
- Antwoine Hackford is the 20th 16-year-old to play in the Premier League.
- Sheffield United are the first English top-flight side to fail to win any of their first 17 games in a season since Bolton Wanderers in 1902-03.
- Eberechi Eze is the fourth Crystal Palace player to score their first two Premier League goals for the club from outside the penalty box and first since Ricky Newman in 1994 (also Gareth Southgate and Simon Rodger).
- The Blades have gone 20 Premier League games without a clean sheet, the longest current run in the division.
- Palace have scored 12 first-half Premier League goals this season, two more than they scored before half-time in the whole of 2019-20.
Both teams are in FA Cup third-round action next. Crystal Palace are at Wolves next Friday (19:45 GMT), before Sheffield United look to avoid an upset at League One Bristol Rovers on Saturday (15:00).
- 4MilivojevicSubstituted forRiedewaldat 90+5′minutes
- 15SchluppSubstituted forEzeat 40′minutesBooked at 67mins
- 20BentekeSubstituted forJ Ayewat 48′minutes
- 3van Aanholt
- 9J Ayew
- 20BogleBooked at 45mins
- 16NorwoodBooked at 63mins
- 4FleckBooked at 89mins
- 23OsbornSubstituted forHackfordat 80′minutes
- 11MoussetSubstituted forBrewsterat 61′minutes
Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, Sheffield United 0.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, Sheffield United 0.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Joel Ward.
Ethan Ampadu (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jairo Riedewald replaces Luka Milivojevic.
Attempt saved. David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by John Fleck.
Attempt blocked. Antwoine Hackford (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Basham.
John Fleck (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by John Fleck (Sheffield United).
Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. John Fleck (Sheffield United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by John Egan.
Attempt blocked. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.
Attempt blocked. David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Luka Milivojevic.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Antwoine Hackford replaces Ben Osborn.
Ben Osborn (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by James McArthur (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by James McArthur.