It was Eberechi Eze‘s week as he further eased Crystal Palace‘s relegation fears as their revival continued under Roy Hodgson, and the former England manager has urged current Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate to keep an eye on Selhurst Park.

With seven matches to go, teams are beginning to pull away from the relegation zone, with Palace in particular having put considerable distance between themselves and the bottom three, following an outstanding upturn in fortunes in recent weeks.

Returning veteran manager Hodgson has dominated the plaudits after replacing Patrick Vieira, but the Eagles’ African stars have played their parts in the club’s climb up to mid-table.

Michael Olise, who, like Eze, is eligible for Nigeria and England, starred with a hat-trick of assists at Leeds last weekend, as Ghana‘s Jordan Ayew scored a rare double, while Jeffrey Schlupp continues to make valuable contributions.

This weekend, it was Eze’s turn, as the 24-year-old, who has been under a lot of pressure to decide between England and Nigeria, extended his fine recent form with both goals as Palace defeated bottom-club Southampton.

This was Eze’s second consecutive star turn following his masterclass against Leeds, and the attacker was thoroughly mesmerising as the Saints’ own relegation concerns intensified.

It could have been a completely different story had Nigeria’s Joe Aribo, a potential international colleague of Eze, not blazed a decent chance over during the early exchanges.

Recalled to the starting XI for the first time in 2023, Aribo’s return was a desperate throw of the dice from Southampton boss Ruben Selles, but it didn’t pay off, with the Nigerian’s rustiness showing as he failed to hit the target early when the hosts’ smart use of the ball led to a decent opening.

Throughout, Aribo failed to demonstrate why he was used — in such an advanced role — ahead of compatriot Paul Onuachu, a €20 million January signing from Belgium, but sparingly used by troubled Saints.

The second half belonged to Eze and the Eagles. He tested his range soon after the break, and then broke the deadlock when he reacted quickest to prod home when Ayew’s cross was parried into his path by Gavin Bazunu.

Selles tried to rouse the home fans, as the ominous clouds of relegation increasingly gather at St Mary’s, but Eze ensured there would be no comeback on the day with a sensational second.

Picking up a pass from Marc Guehi, he duped substitute Moussa Djenepo with a lightning feint, before tearing towards goal, and letting rip with a powerful low effort from outside the box that nestled in Bazunu’s goal.

It was the kind of moment of inspiration that could establish Eze as the replacement for Wilfried Zaha as Palace’s talisman, and encouragingly, following his goal against Leeds, this is the first time the ex-Queens Park Rangers man has netted in consecutive Prem outings.

While Super Eagles fans should be licking their lips after Eze’s outstanding display, Hodgson believes that England should be considering the former England youth international, who does not yet have a senior cap for either country.

“Yes, why not?” the ex-Three Lions boss responded when asked about Eze’s England prospects.

“The people watching for Gareth Southgate at the moment will be making their assessments and they don’t need any help or advice from me on that subject.

“But if you’re talking about a player’s ambition, young as he is, a massive possibility to keep improving and keep doing well with every Premier League game he plays.

“I think if I was him I would be saying, ‘I’m so good I’m going to make that my ambition’, but the only way he’ll do that is by producing more and more of these performances and hoping that Steve Holland and Gareth Southgate watch him and come to the same conclusion: That this is a player that can help us out.”

While Palace continue to climb away from danger, Leicester City‘s own woes continue with no upturn in fortunes following the arrival of Dean Smith as Brendan Rodgers’ replacement. They were always going to be outsiders against Manchester City, and a limp first-half display will have done little to dispel relegation fears.

When 3-0 down after 25 minutes, Leicester at least responded through substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, who responded to his warm reception by the home fans by netting against his former club to give the Foxes hope of a late comeback.

However, missed chances from James Maddison and Iheanacho, who struck the woodwork, ensured there would be no unlikely point against the reigning champions as they let their foot off the gas during the latter stages.

In scoring, Iheanacho became only the second ex-City player in Prem history to score in consecutive away games against his former club. He follows in the footsteps of another former Leicester forward Paul Dickov … but it’s likely to be scant consolation as the East Midlanders remain two points from safety and without a win in 10 games in all competitions.

Dango Ouattara‘s delicious solo effort for Bournemouth secured a 94th-minute victory for Bournemouth at Tottenham Hotspur, increasing tensions in North London while boosting the Cherries’ own survival hopes.

Once appearing firmly destined for the drop, the south-coast club are now up to 14th and six points above the bottom three following Ouattara’s fine late intervention.

The wideman, despite his excellent form since arriving from FC Lorient, was only introduced from the bench by Gary O’Neil, and made his presence felt as Spurs pushed for a winner as he outsmarted the laboured Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg before curling beyond Hugo Lloris.

Dominic Solanke deserves immense credit for his goal – capitalising on a hapless display by Davinson Sanchez – and two assists, but surely a strong case can be made that Ouattara’s £20 million arrival in January might be the most valuable signing of the window.

Bournemouth’s joy contrasts starkly with Leeds United‘s own misery, as the Yorkshiremen were trounced 6-1 by Mohamed Salah-inspired Liverpool on Monday.

The Egyptian superstar netted twice to ensure yet another crushing defeat for Javi Gracia’s side, with Salah extending his own magnificent personal record against Leeds.

He’s scored nine against them in the Prem – only Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry have more – while Salah’s two left-footed strikes take him above Robbie Fowler as the most prolific left-footed-goal scorer in the division’s history.



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Over in Spain, Ghana’s Inaki Williams is rediscovering his own form in style following a dramatic slump in recent months.

The attacker started the season in style — with five goals in his first 12 league outings — a period during which he made his Black Stars debut, and secured a spot in the West Africans’ party for the World Cup.

Since returning from Qatar, however, Williams has struggled to rediscover his previous vigour, failing to score at all between November and April.

That run changed with a Copa del Rey opener against Osasuna, and Williams followed that up with a goal in Athletic Bilbao’s victory at Espanyol, before a brace to down Real Sociedad in this weekend’s Basque Derby at the new San Mames.

He now has four goals in his last three outings, with his second with 20 minutes to play — a thumping finish past Alex Remiro from a tight angle — evidence of a player who’s firmly rediscovering his confidence.

With eight La Liga goals so far this term, Williams has equalled his return from last season, and at his current rate can eclipse his career-best return of 13 from 2018-19.

Williams’ international teammate — out-of-favour Black Star Joseph Paintsil — also enjoyed a weekend to remember, striking a hat-trick in Belgium as Genk trounced domestic giants Anderlecht 5-2 in the Belgian Pro League.

The win takes the Blauw-Wit up to 74 points after 33 matches, with one match of the regular season remaining.

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Should England sneak past Nigeria to land Crystal Palace star Eberechi Eze?