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Mateta, Eberechi goals destroy Aston Villa

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Jean-Philippe Mateta struck a hat-trick while Eberechi Eze scored twice as Crystal Palace thrashed a sorry Aston Villa to finish tenth and equal their best finish in the Premier League.

The French striker scored twice before the break and secured his hat-trick through an Eze assist.

Mateta then set up Eze for his second goal, his first having come early in the second half.

Palace end the season with an unbeaten run of seven games, while Villa, having already secured fourth place, could only claim two points from a possible 12 in the final stretch.

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It was a subdued end to an otherwise excellent campaign for Unai Emery’s side, who qualify for the Champions League 41 years after their last outing in the European Cup.

Showing four changes to the side that started the 3-3 draw with Liverpool on the previous Monday, Villa’s bench featured two goalkeepers including Emery’s 21-year-old son Lander.

The Eagles finished the season strongly under manager Oliver Glasner, who replaced Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park in mid-February.

Palace were in a relegation fight when Glasner succeeded Roy Hodgson in February, but such was their turnaround under the Austrian that they finished the campaign as one of the Premier League’s in-form sides.

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Confidence oozed out of them from the start, with Mateta sweeping Michael Olise’s pass past Robin Olsen for the opener after nine minutes.

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He diverted a low Daniel Munoz cross past Olsen for his second, and Palace could have been further ahead by the break had the keeper not saved from Olise twice inside stoppage time.

Eze latched onto a rebound to lash the ball in from the edge of the box to make it 3-0 and then set up Mateta for his third goal.

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Mateta found the net for the fourth time shortly after, only for it to be chalked off for offside, but he set up Eze for his second to complete an excellent end to the season for the Eagles.

It was a harsh ending to the season for Villa, who ran out of steam after a gruelling spell that saw them play six times inside 17 days.

That included a two-legged semi-final defeat to Olympiakos and a stirring comeback against Liverpool that secured fourth place at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur.

The pass from Olise that sliced open the defence for Mateta’s first set the template for the rest of the afternoon, while Moussa Diaby’s shot that was saved by Dean Henderson soon afterwards was Villa’s best chance of getting close to Palace.

Villa were playing their 55th game of the season and how they cope with battles on several fronts, with the demands of the Champions League as well as domestic challenges, will be a real test of Emery and his squad next season.

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