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'It's been a tough, tough year' - Palace star relieved to end 358-day goal drought

Christian Benteke scored in the win at Arsenal to open his Premier League account for the season.

Christian Benteke (file pic).
Christian Benteke (file pic).

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE HAS revealed it has been a ‘tough, tough year,’ after ending a 358-day run without scoring a goal in Crystal Palace’s 3-2 win at Arsenal on Sunday.

The Belgian striker, who moved to Palace from Liverpool for a hefty £27 million (€31 million) in 2016, put the Eagles ahead in the 17th minute, and was involved in the build-up to Wilfred Zaha’s 61st-minute goal.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez left Benteke out of his World Cup squad last year, following a poor season which saw the Palace forward only score three goals in 31 Premier League appearances.

Prior to Sunday’s game, the forward had not hit the back of the net since the Eagles beat Leicester 5-0 in late April last year, when he converted a penalty in the 90th minute. After his goal at Arsenal, Benteke discussed how difficult it was to get back into scoring form.

He said: ​“I’m really happy and really pleased to get back on the scoresheet. It’s been a tough, tough year for me, first with injury then with having to wait my turn.

I’m happy about my performance [at Arsenal] because it’s not just the goal — we work really hard, myself and Wilf up front.

“We know how hard it is to play against Arsenal, especially when they play at home, so we can be really pleased.

“I’m not someone who shows emotion, but inside I was really, really happy with myself. I will just keep doing the same that I’ve been doing before when I’ve been scoring and in form.

“I know that when I’m in form, when I’m 100 per cent fit, I know what I’m capable of doing.

It feels good when you play this kind of game, especially against the big teams. We’re not just talking about relegation anymore, because we know we’re much better than that.”

Palace’s win over the Gunners puts them 12th in the Premier League table, as well as making them mathematically safe from relegation.

Arsenal, meanwhile, were dealt a blow to their top-four hopes after the loss, coupled with Chelsea’s draw at home to Burnley on Monday night, left Unai Emery’s side in fifth place, a point behind their London rivals, albeit with a game in hand.

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