There was no shortage of drama as new Swansea City boss Paul Clement saw his side earn a late 2-1 win over relegation rivals Crystal Palace.
A late goal from Angel Rangel ensured Swansea City started the Paul Clement era with an important 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Crystal Palace, lifting them off the foot of the Premier League
For large parts of the game it looked as though Clement, who signed a two- and-a-half-year deal to replace Bob Bradley at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday, would be celebrating a 1-0 win, after Alfie Mawson headed his maiden goal for the club in the first half.
Palace thought they had earned a point when Wilfried Zaha – playing his last game before heading to the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast – levelled with a spectacular acrobatic volley in the 83rd minute.
However, there was time for another late twist from an unlikely source at Selhurst Park as Swansea – who won the chaotic reverse fixture 5-4 – stole the points when Rangel squeezed home a late winner.
Clement, who was supposed to be taking a watching brief but ended up on the touchline in each half, now takes over a side who are just one point adrift of Palace in 17th.
Opposite number Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, is still searching for a first win as Palace boss and he will be frustrated at seeing two penalty calls go unrewarded.
Swansea started well and Fernando Llorente nodded wide after good play from Wayne Routledge on the right.
The visitors launched a swift counter-attack in the 17th minute that led to Llorente playing in Jack Cork, who dawdled on the ball and allowed Wayne Hennessey to make a simple save.
Swansea remained in the ascendancy and Federico Fernandez – one of four changes – should have headed on target when he leapt to meet Gylfi Sigurdsson’s teasing free-kick, before Routledge failed with a tame lob after eluding the offside trap.
Palace were lacking confidence and the home fans voiced their disapproval, but the Eagles faithful soon turned their ire towards referee Paul Tierney for not awarding a penalty to Christian Benteke, who felt he was clipped when leaping over goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the area.
And their mood worsened three minutes before the break when the unmarked Mawson flicked a header into the bottom-right corner from Sigurdsson’s free-kick.
Benteke, who was holding his shoulder late in the half, was replaced by Fraizer Campbell at half-time and Bakary Sako soon came on in place of Andros Townsend, who left the pitch to a handful of jeers.
And it was Sako who brought the first meaningful save out of Fabianski just shy of the hour mark with a stinging free-kick.
Sako’s introduction gave Palace added impetus and Rangel was fortunate not to concede a spot-kick for handball when challenging the winger.
But the equaliser arrived in the 83rd minute. Martin Kelly had space on the right and his cross into the area was met with a stunning scissor kick from Zaha that nestled in the left-hand corner.
Swansea were not to be denied, though, and substitute Rangel latched on to Leroy Fer’s clipped pass before poking past Hennessey to snatch an 88th-minute winner, much to the delight of the travelling supporters and new boss Clement.
Key Opta stats:
– Swansea ended a run of eight away Premier League games (D1 L7) without a win.
– Wilfried Zaha has had a hand in 10 Premier League goals this season (four goals, six assists) – as many as he had in his three previous Premier League seasons combined.
– Crystal Palace have now kept only one clean sheet in their last 25 Premier League games.
– Since August 2014, only one Premier League midfielder (Sadio Mane – 43) has had a hand in more goals than Gylfi Sigurdsson (42 – 23 goals and 19 assists).
– Sam Allardyce has lost his first home Premier League match as a boss for the very first time – he had previously won four and drawn one.
– Angel Rangel ended a run of 95 Premier League matches without a goal by grabbing the winner – it was his first since May 2013 against Wigan.