Premier League - Crystal Palace pip Aston Villa in five-goal classic: Benteke, Zaha, Mitchell score
Premier League, Selhurst Park - Crystal Palace 3 (Benteke 32', Zaha 75', Mitchell 84') Aston Villa 2 (McGinn 17', El Ghazi 34')
Crystal Palace's Zaire-born Belgian striker Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring their first goal during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park
Tyrick Mitchell scored his first senior goal as Crystal Palace twice came from behind to beat Aston Villa in a pulsating encounter at Selhurst Park.
Both sides came into the contest in poor form, but it was Villa who started the brightest and took the lead in the 17th minute through John McGinn's placed shot which left Jack Butland - making his first Premier League appearance in over three years - with little chance.
Villa, however, took their foot off the gas and Palace were level in the 34th minute when Christian Benteke scored against his former club with a typical header from Mitchell's floated cross.
It was a thoroughly entertaining end-to-end affair between two sides with little to play for, and three minutes later Villa restored their lead. Palace's defending was questionable once more as McGinn's cross caused chaos and it fell to Anwar El Ghazi who smashed it home.
Benteke was inches away from a second as Palace knocked on the door after the restart in search of another equaliser, with the 30-year-old's header from a corner delivery crashing off the crossbar.
Their pressure eventually told in the 75th minute when Zaha was afforded too much space on the left flank and, after cutting inside, his shot was deflected past Emiliano Martinez off Ahmed Elmohamady.
Palace would be denied by the woodwork for the second time when Eberechi Eze bent a lovely shot at the crossbar, but the hosts grabbed the goal their second-half performance deserved when Mitchell bundled it over the line following Eze's mishit shot with just five minutes remaining.
The victory moves Roy Hodgson's side up one place to 13th while Villa remain 11th and the defeat all-but ends their ambitions of landing a top-half finish.
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TALKING POINT - Where next for Benteke?
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, now is the time to reflect on the Belgian's underwhelming career at Palace.
With just 30 goals in the last five years, it is fair to say he hasn't hit the heights expected of him. He hasn't hit double figures since 2017, but with seven goals in his last 12 games, it looks increasingly likely the 30-year-old will reach that target this season - he needs just one more.
Benteke has left his best to last - just as the season draws to a close. He is clearly trying to make an impression to potential suitors and his recent goalscoring form is a reminder of his unquestionable ability. Where he goes next is anyone's guess, but he has given clubs in need of a striker something to think about.
Of course, Hodgson has his own future to consider. As well as having 11 players out of contract this summer, the 73-year-old also hasn't committed to the club next season. After this inspired performance, he may just decide he's having too much fun to walk away just yet.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
There were a number of contenders in the Palace ranks after a splendid second-half performance, but it was Benteke who was best on the day. He was at the centre of every Palace attack, winning headers, linking up play and generally looking alert and dangerous.
17' - GOAL! Crystal Palace 0-1 Aston Villa (John McGinn): It has been coming - no one can say Villa don't deserve their lead. They push Palace back and Cahill fails to clear his lines from a cross. It falls to McGinn, who places a lovely shot into the far corner
34' - GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-1 Aston Villa (Christian Benteke): Benteke scores against his former club! It's the third game in a row in which he's scored now, as he climbs highest to head down Mitchell's beautifully floated cross and the ball nestles in the corner.
34' - GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-2 Aston Villa (Anwar El Ghazi): McGinn does well to drive to the byline and his cross is headed up rather than out by Kouyate. Watkins flicks it into the path of El Ghazi who smashes it home. Dreadful defending and Villa are ahead again.
59' - Off the woodwork! Palace win another corner and Benteke is inches away from a second goal as his header crashes off the crossbar! Did Martinez get a faint touch to it? Maybe. That's another warning for Villa.
75' - GOAL! Crystal Palace 2-2 Aston Villa (Wilfried Zaha): Palace are level once again! Zaha drives down the left flank, carves inside and fires a shot at goal. It takes a deflection off Elmohamady, wrong-footing the goalkeeper and yet again Villa let a lead slip.
83' - Woodwork, again! For the second time this afternoon Palace are denied by the crossbar! Everyone is expecting the cross but Eze goes for goal, whipping his shot towards the far post but he can only watch as it smashes off the woodwork.
85' - GOAL! Crystal Palace 3-2 Aston Villa (Tyrick Mitchell): Palace are ahead for the first time this afternoon! Mitchell grabs his first senior goal after Villa failed to clear from Zaha's cross. Eze's shot is mishit and it falls into the path of the 21-year-old who bundles it over the line!
Tyrick Mitchell (21 years 257 days) is the youngest Crystal Palace player to score in the Premier League since Clinton Morrison (18 years 361 days) vs Sheffield Wednesday in May 1998.
Christian Benteke has scored his 31st headed goal in the Premier League, going level with Tim Cahill for such goals. Benteke now ranks joint-ninth all-time for headed goals in the competition.
Aston Villa have dropped 19 points from winning positions in 2021, the joint-most of any side in England's top four tiers along with Walsall and Wigan Athletic. They hadn't dropped a single point from a winning position this season before the turn of the year.