LONDON (Reuters) – Huddersfield Town’s relegation was confirmed when they lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday to become the second team in the Premier League era to go down before the end of March.
Wins for Burnley and Southampton sealed Huddersfield’s fate, as they matched Derby County’s record, set in 2008, for the earliest relegation from the Premier League after 32 games.
Huddersfield were doing a good job of frustrating Palace in the Selhurst Park sunshine, with the hosts rarely threatening until the latter stages.
Huddersfield’s resistance was broken after Wilfried Zaha was fouled in the penalty area in the 76th minute and Luka Milivojevic converted from the spot to put Palace in front.
Patrick van Aanholt’s late goal sealed the win, as Huddersfield slumped to their 24th defeat of the season.
As the players left the pitch, news filtered through that Burnley’s 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton’s 1-0 victory at Brighton & Hove Albion had confirmed Huddersfield’s relegation.
“I’m empty at the moment,” Huddersfield captain Christopher Schindler said. “This season we’ve spent so much energy especially in the head. Nobody wants to have this on their CV, but obviously we had some brilliant years with this club.”
Huddersfield came into the game on the back of three straight defeats, but had much the better of the early action, with Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita forced into two fine saves.
With Burnley in front, Southampton took the lead in the 53rd minute at Brighton, and Palace, with their own survival of paramount importance, stepped up the pressure, with Andros Townsend and Zaha both going closing to breaking the deadlock.
Zaha, as ever, was Palace’s chief threat and he won the foul from Juninho Bacuna before the ever-reliable Milivojevic hammered the penalty home to put Huddersfield on the brink.
“It is hard to say what I am feeling, disappointment of course,” Huddersfield manager Jan Siewert said. “It sums the season up that a penalty decides the direction.
“When you go into the dressing room at half time and get applause from the opponent you must have done something right. But it is not enough to win games in the Premier League.”
Van Aanholt’s late strike from 12 yards sealed a crucial victory for Palace, who are now eight points clear of the relegation zone, while Huddersfield’s two-year stint in the Premier League is over.
“Congratulations to Huddersfield, they are technically relegated but should be proud of their performance because they tested us,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said.