Ready for the challenge

Yannick Bolasie (left) with manager Alan Pardew.-GETTY IMAGES Yannick Bolasie (left) with manager Alan Pardew.

If the hat-trick against Sunderland does prove the catalyst for Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie to become a regular goal-scorer, manager Andrew Pardew will have himself the ideal winger, writes Glen Robertson.

Yannick Bolasie might finally have added the missing piece of his game under Alan Pardew.

The Democratic Republic of Congo winger has offered Crystal Palace pace, power and trickery from the flank since signing from Bristol City in 2012, but he scored just four goals in his first 105 games for the club.

Then, in the space of 11 minutes during the Barclays Premier League fixture with Sunderland in April, Bolasie almost doubled that tally.

After setting up Glenn Murray’s opener early in the second-half, the 25-year-old ran riot, finding the net in the 51st, 53rd and 62nd minutes to become the first Eagles player to score a Premier League hat-trick.

Pardew hopes it is just the start. The Palace boss said: “Two of those finishes were top drawer. The second goal was just power and pace and a clever finish. His second goal was a great goal. He was calm and dictated the moment. Now he needs to build on that.”

It is a challenge that Bolasie is more than ready for.

“The gaffer has been on to me about getting more goals, and I have taken a step in the right direction,” said the former Plymouth winger.

“I haven’t scored as many goals as I’ve wanted to this season — hitting the crossbar, post — and I have scored three in 10 minutes. How’s that for football? You have got to enjoy moments like this, they don’t come around often. Hopefully they will in the future. That’s my aim.”

Bolasie and Pardew’s partnership took time to get going. When the former Crystal Palace player took charge of the club in January, Bolasie was at the African Nations Cup with his country, where he scored once in DR Congo’s run to the semifinals.

When he returned to England, Pardew had already been in charge for six games and won five of them. However, the first three fixtures Bolasie was involved in returned no victories.

But then things changed. Palace won five of their next six and Bolasie was key. He set up two goals against QPR, caused problems for every defender he faced, including the back four of reigning champions Manchester City during a 2-1 win for Palace, and wrapped it up with his treble at the Stadium of Light.

It was not just his attacking skills that impressed Pardew, though.

He said: “If you’re going to be a wide player in the modern game, particularly in a five-man midfield, not only do you need to score goals and create, but you need to defend.

“The two guys at Bayern Munich (Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery) — if they can do it, surely it’s good enough for our guys.

“Their performance (against Manchester City) was the complete opposite of what you would expect from Bolasie and (Wilfried) Zaha. But it just goes to prove that they can do both sides of the game.”

If the Sunderland hat-trick does prove the catalyst for Bolasie to become a regular goal-scorer, Pardew will have himself the ideal winger.

© PA Sport