MAROUANE Chamakh fired a rare goal to complete Alan Pardew’s fairytale return to Crystal Palace, but it was a bitter-sweet experience for the Moroccan forward.
Chamakh combined with Scott Dann in the second half to claim only his fourth goal of the season, but shortly after he crashed to the deck in agony after damaging his left hamstring while in full flight and he had to be helped from the pitch.
The 1-0 victory over Swansea was the 10th win of Pardew’s 18 Barclays Premier League games as Palace boss and it brought down the curtain on a superb six months for the former Newcastle United manager.
Pardew arrived at Selhurst Park in January with the Eagles stuck in the relegation zone but 18 matches later they have finished 10th, setting a club record for the Premier League.
Palace could have scored more during a dominant second half, but Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski made some fine saves.
The Swans were guaranteed to secure eighth place regardless of what happened in south-east London and while it was not the result they wanted, the loss failed to take the gloss off an impressive campaign under boss Garry Monk.
With both teams certain to finish in mid-table there were no prizes at stake, but they started with intent even if there was little to trouble either keeper.
A shot from Jason Puncheon sailed harmlessly over the crossbar before a Jack Cork header from a corner forced a smart save from Wayne Hennessey.
It was then Fabianski’s turn to spring into action after Yannick Bolasie had been played in by James McArthur, but Pardew’s £40million man directed his shot straight at the Swansea keeper.
Bolasie, a summer transfer target for Liverpool, showed expert control as he chested down a long pass before cutting inside to shoot with his attempt headed off target by Federico Fernandez.
Palace continued to build pressure but Swansea defended stubbornly and on occasion darted forward themselves, probing for weaknesses on the counter.
A turn and shoot from Swansea’s Marvin Emnes launched the second half, but Palace were quickly back on the offensive.
Chamakh marauded through midfield only to slip over of his own accord while under no pressure, although players from both teams had struggled for footing on the Selhurst Park turf.
Palace substitute Glenn Murray was squeezed out by some robust defending, but Swansea’s rearguard was exposed in the 58th minute as the home side took a lead they fully deserved.
Puncheon floated in a long free-kick into the left side of the penalty area where Dann rose high to nod the ball towards the spot where Chamakh was waiting.
The unmarked Moroccan striker took the assist on his chest and directed it downwards before taking advantage of Swansea’s absent defenders to prod home. Sadly, his afternoon was then ended by a troublesome hamstring.
Wilfried Zaha tormented Swansea as Palace poured forward in search of a second, but his incisive run ended with a low shot that struck the side netting and the visitors avoided conceding a second despite some anxious moments.