Mateta and Eze inspire Crystal Palace to crushing win over Aston Villa

<span>Goalscorers <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Eberechi Eze;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Eberechi Eze</a> and <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jean-Philippe Mateta;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jean-Philippe Mateta</a> share a high five.</span><span>Photograph: Tony Obrien/Reuters</span>

It is just as well Aston Villa’s raucous travelling fans had already decided to treat this sun-drenched Sunday afternoon as little more than an opportunity to cele­brate a historic season, because the thorough pasting their side received would otherwise have been impossible to stomach.

In bringing Europe’s premier competition to Villa Park next season for the first time since it was rebranded as the Champions League, Unai Emery has earned every plaudit that comes his way. But this swaggering Crystal Palace performance was a reminder that he was not the only magician in the Selhurst Park dugouts.

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Evident in every flick, trick, tippy-tappy first-time pass and brazen ambition all over the pitch was the ­extraordinary confidence Oliver Glasner has brought to Palace since taking the reins in ­February. In the space of three months, the Austrian has turned a club perennially concerned with avoiding relegation into one ­capable of beating anyone.

His Palace side were rampant, concluding the season with a seven-game unbeaten run that meant they climbed into the top half of the table, matching their best Premier League finish of 10th.

In Jean-Philippe Mateta, Glasner has somehow transformed a mis­firing striker into one of the top flight’s most deadly finishers. ­Having scored seven league goals across the past two campaigns, the Frenchman grabbed his first Premier League hat‑trick here, taking his stunning late-season run to 13 goals in 13 games.

Manchester City Champions League

Arsenal Champions League

Liverpool Champions League

Aston Villa Champions League

Tottenham Europa League

Chelsea Europa League if Manchester City win the FA Cup; Europa Conference League if Manchester United win the FA Cup

Newcastle Europa Conference League if Manchester City win the FA Cup; not in Europe if Manchester United win the FA Cup

Manchester United Europa League if they win the FA Cup; not in Europe if they lose the FA Cup final

The two he scored in the first half were slotted from close range with a minimum of fuss, before adding a neat third after Eberechi Eze had played the role of wondrous ­creator. He even had the ball in the net for a fourth time, only to be ruled offside in the buildup by inches.

Behind him, Eze and Michael Olise were their unplayable best, tearing a terrified Villa defence to shreds as the hosts ran riot. Eze scored two brilliant long-range goals in a timely performance that will give Gareth Southgate further headaches as he contemplates how to fithis surfeit of attacking options into England’s Euro 2024 squad.

Asked whether his sought-after attacking trio will remain at Palace next season, Glasner replied: “I’m very confident because they have contracts here. We all did what we can do as Crystal Palace. We showed them that we have ambition, showed them how we want to play, which path we want to go down, which journey we want to ride together and that they can play a crucial part in it.

“If something else happens then it’s part of football, but then Crystal Palace can build a new Selhurst Park because it would be a lot of money.”

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Faced with an ever-growing injury list that has decimated his squad, Emery’s team wilted alarmingly as the season drew to a close. So bleak were the options at his disposal that he was unable to fill the bench, even resorting to naming two ­goalkeepers among the substitutes, including his 21-year-old son Lander.

“It was very difficult today,” Emery said. “I’m disappointed and sad. But we have to accept it because this season we were very competitive and we achieved what we did.”

Thankfully the hard work had been done in previous months and a Villa away end featuring Buzz Lightyear, a bunch of bananas and a dozen traffic cones rarely let their singing cease. Nothing their buoyant opponents could produce was going to take the gloss off finishing fourth, which is just as well because this was total humiliation.