Crystal Palace midfielder Will Hughes has praised Jean-Philippe Mateta for his goal against Norwich City, stating that the forward "deserved" it.
The former France youth international of Congolese descent was among the goal scorers as the Eagles silenced Dean Smith’s men 3-0 at Selhurst Park.
In the goal-laden first half, the 24-year-old got Palace’s third goal in the 42nd minute after he was set up by Odsonne Edouard.
That effort was the Mainz loanee’s first strike in the 2021-22 campaign after four appearances so far for Patrick Vieira’s side.
Asked how he felt featuring against the Canaries after a spell largely on the sidelines, Hughes singled out his Franco-Congolese teammate for praise.
“It was brilliant from JP – he deserves it,” the 26-year-old told the club website.
“He’s been working really hard and his performance and goal he really deserved.
“That’s why we have a squad of 25 because when players are missing for whatever reason we have players to step in.”
Crystal Palace suffered a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their previous match, but they returned to winning ways this time around, with Hughes explaining what his team did right.
"Every game in the Premier League is tough in its own way. Tottenham are a tough, tough team and showed it. It was hard when we went down to 10-men,” he continued.
“But like we said in the changing room before, if you match their [Norwich’s] intensity and work rate we know we have the quality to shine through and that showed in the first half.
“You’ve got to get through these games because when you play twice in two days it takes a toll on your body, but everyone is in the same position and you have to get on with it.”
After impressing for 81 minutes, Mateta was subbed off for Christian Benteke, whereas Ghana's duo of Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp as well as Senegal's Cheikhou Kouyate were in action from start to finish.
Thanks to this result, Vieira’s side climbed to 10th in the log after accruing 23 points from 19 matches.
Mateta – who is eligible to represent DR Congo at senior level – will not be participating in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations following the Leopards’ failure to qualify for the biennial African football showpiece.
On the other hand, Ayew, Wilfried Zaha and Kouyate are expected to represent the Black Stars, Cote d’Ivoire and the Lions of Teranga, respectively, in Cameroon.