Remembering when Yannick Bolasie was Crystal Palace’s great entertainer

Crystal Palace are often regarded as a bit of a boring team by many, associated with the defensive tactics of Roy Hodgson. Not even Wilfried Zaha is enough to bring that excitement factor to Selhurst Park at times.

While he does have Eberechi Eze to link up with now, the Ivory Coast international and Palace supporters can be forgiven if their mind ever longingly wonders back to the time they had Yannick Bolasie to enjoy.

He had four years with the Eagles, having signed from Bristol City in 2012, eventually leaving for Everton in a deal that cost around £30million. He ended up getting 13 goals and a further 30 assists for the club, but it’s not his numbers that made him so special, it was how he conducted himself on the pitch.

Embarrassing opponents 

One specific person who definitely won’t have enjoyed the Democratic Republic of Congo international’s time at Palace is Dejan Lovren, who had two notable run-ins with him and came out worse off in both of them.

The most memorable of those is when the former Plymouth Argyle man reached down as if he was about to touch the floor, before pushing the ball past the confused Croatian, who could do little more than putting an arm out in a futile attempt to halt the winger.

Then there is the time the centre-back thought it would be a good idea to get tight to Bolasie, only to see him chest the ball down before taking it on his knee and flicking it over both of their heads – Lovren was left as a crumpled mess on the floor in the process.

What makes this even worse for the defender is that the second of these ended in a Palace goal, which also offers a reminder that Bolasie could provide an end product as well as entertainment value.

Fortunately for the Croatia international, he isn’t the only player who fell foul of Bolasie’s mesmeric feet.

For example, when he pulled out the Bolasie flick for the first time, he scampered away from Christian Eriksen far quicker than the Dane managed to get out of Tottenham. There aren’t too many players who have had a move named after them.

During his time at Palace, the winger showed the agility, creativity and power that allowed him to exploit open spaces or navigate his way out of tight areas with the ball remaining in his possession.

He could drive past defenders, put the ball through their legs or repeatedly dance around them, teasing them until he felt it was the right time to play the pass or get a shot off – we’re looking at you Philippe Senderos.

On the big stage

As well as entertaining moments, Bolasie also had his fair share of big ones, as he helped Crystal Palace get out of the Championship through the play-offs – he set up the opener in the semi-final second leg against bitter rivals Brighton.

However, none of those came bigger than the FA Cup semi-final, in which he scored the opener against Watford to help earn a place in the final against Manchester United.

Yohann Cabaye had sent a corner towards the front post, which was flicked on by Damien Delaney, allowing Bolasie to come in and nod home at the back post.

While he kept a cool exterior during the ensuing celebrations, Bolasie was probably overjoyed inside. If so, it’ll be the same sort of enjoyment we got from watching him embarrass Premier League defenders on a regular basis.

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