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Odsonne Edouard’s second-half goal earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 win against Sheffield United to worsen the gloom at Bramall Lane.
Edouard struck from close range four minutes after the restart to give the Eagles a deserved three points in the Premier League opener.
It was thoroughly convincing for Roy Hodgson’s men as they had two further goals disallowed, while Blades goalkeeper Wes Foderingham made a number of saves to keep his side in it.
Indeed, Hodgson’s biggest problem came when he was involved in a touchline scuffle with Max Lowe midway through the second half, with the Blades defender appearing to shove the 76-year-old in the midriff after he stopped the ball running away.
United’s return to the top flight after two seasons away ended with a whimpering defeat to compound a negative few weeks which saw the sale of Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge.
Boss Paul Heckingbottom admitted before the match that United are “nowhere near” where they need to be and that showed as they lacked any real goal threat throughout the match.
The signing of Gustavo Hamer from Coventry overnight had boosted spirits and he was paraded on the pitch before kick-off.
The atmosphere helped the Blades make a strong start, with Will Osula going close inside the opening 10 minutes with an effort that was deflected just wide.
But Palace began to take control of the game, with Eberechi Eze running things with his impressive ball-carrying skills.
And he twice saw goalbound efforts blocked, first from Jack Robinson and then from John Egan.
The visitors thought they had taken the lead midway through the first half when Jordan Ayew headed home after Joachim Andersen’s shot had been fumbled by Foderingham, but it was ruled out for offside.
It was little surprise when they did go in front just after the restart.
Ayew found a good position on the right hand side and sent in a wicked low cross which was begging to be converted and Edouard duly obliged, stabbing in from close range.
It could have been two 10 minutes later as Edouard found space at the far post from Eze’s free-kick but his header was straight at Foderingham.
The former Celtic striker also had a goal ruled out for offside, while Ayew tested Foderingham’s handling with a fierce shot that was palmed away.
Palace kept knocking on the door for a second and Foderingham got down brilliantly to keep out Andersen’s header.
The Blades had nothing in the way of a response, other than plenty of effort, as Palace saw it out with ease.
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