Premier League
Crystal Palace1Aston Villa0

Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa

Jason Puncheon scores

Crystal Palace beat a lacklustre Aston Villa to secure a third successive Premier League victory and move seven points clear of the relegation places.

Palace created the better chances, although Cameron Jerome needed to clear Ciaran Clark's header off the line.

Jerome hit the crossbar, while referee Howard Webb appeared to award Palace a penalty only to reverse the decision.

Jason Puncheon found the bottom corner to secure a vital win and leave Villa only four points above 18th.

Prior to the match, Palace manager Tony Pulis said not even a victory over Villa would ease the fear of relegation but the Welshman will be a lot more relaxed than his counterpart Paul Lambert.

Palace improved as the match progressed and deserved the three points which take them to 12th in the table, seven points ahead of third-from-bottom Fulham, having played a game fewer than their London rivals.

Villa, perhaps understandably for a team attempting to avoid a fourth consecutive league loss, seemed nervous but that tension will only increase as the prospect of Championship football remains a real possibility.

They enjoyed the majority of possession, but it was a familiar tale for a side that has struggled to score this season, especially in the absence of injured top scorer Christian Benteke.

Jerome, Palace's biggest threat in the opening stages, booted the ball away three yards from his own goal when Julian Speroni seemed beaten by a Clark header.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert

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Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa: Paul Lambert plays down relegation fears

Grant Holt went close for Villa, before Yannick Bolasie's penalty appeal was turned down when he went down under pressure from Holt, but no contact had been made.

Palace were engineering the best chances, with Bolasie and Jerome again at the centre of the action after the break.

Bolasie forced an acrobatic save from Brad Guzan and Jerome, two yards from goal, directed the rebound onto the crossbar.

Palace continued to threaten. Bolasie went close from close range, a Puncheon free-kick forced Guzan into action, and referee Webb initially awarded a penalty to the hosts before changing his mind after consulting with an assistant referee.

Tony Pulis says he is 'just doing my job' after victory

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I'm just doing my job - Pulis

Again, Bolasie was the source of Villa's troubles but replays proved Nathan Baker had not handled the forward's cross.

Ultimately, it mattered little as moments later Bolasie found Puncheon and the former Southampton man outmuscled Ryan Bertrand to score and become Palace's leading scorer in the league.

Villa's best moments came after they fell behind, with Holt wasting a great chance and Speroni stopping a fine Andreas Weimann effort.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "We are a million miles from where we want to be.

"Anyone who knows me will tell you my ambition. If you can't win a game of football it is what happens. We have to win a game of football.

"You're in that group and the only simple solution is to win the next game, that gives you the breathing space."

For a gallery of photos from Saturday's Premier League action, head to the BBC Sport Facebook page.

As It Stood

3Man City3122455570
7Man Utd33176101857
11West Ham3310716-737
12Crystal Palace3311418-1537
14Aston Villa339717-1434
16West Brom3361512-1133
View full Premier League table

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