The Mali winger, signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers at the start of August, was only making his debut for the club after Yannick Bolasie was forced to miss the match following the death of his father.
However, Sako struck a brilliant winner three minutes from time to hand Pardew’s side a 2-1 victory.
“He [Sako] was not going to start, Bolasie would have started, he was in terrific shape for this game,” said Pardew. “And to lose his father, and the manner in which we had to lose him for this game, was nice for us to win and maybe pick him and his family up a little bit from the disappointment they have had over their father.
“But ironic really that the guy who has come in is the match winner, and he looked like being the match winner from the very start today. He wanted to make a statement – the Wolves Player of the Year – and it is no mystery that after what I have seen in training, he’s a good player.”
However, Pardew also acknowledged that the game could have gone either way, with the Palace boss quick to praise the visitors’ display in southeast London.
“This was a really great Premier League game, there was some real quality from Villa, some good stuff from us and it was a real touch and go,” he said. “And I could well be standing here with a defeat to my name with Villa’s performance. So we are thankful that we were just able to edge it.
“It was a tough game, Villa came and tripped us up with a tactical formation – it was a real tactical game today – and we had to be on our toes. We bossed the first half, for sure, and could perhaps have had the lead.
“But second half we sorted ourselves out and were a lot better, carried a real threat in Sako and got two good goals. Almost three, but the referee had a really good call on our ‘first’ goal, so I was pleased with that.”