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Match Reports

Norwich City 1-3 Crystal Palace

8 August 2015

Palace got the new season off to a perfect start as goals from Wilfried Zaha, Damien Delaney and Yohan Cabaye saw the Eagles beat the Canaries at Carrow Road.

The winger finished off a superb team goal on 39 minutes before Delaney netted his first goal in 15 months to hand Palace a decent advantage, which was quickly reduced by Nathan Redmond.

After ex-Eagle Cameron Jerome saw a goal ruled out, the Eagles wrapped up the win with the club record signing slotting past John Ruddy in injury time to seal the victory.

Roared on by a packed house excited to be back in the top-flight again, the hosts started brightly and former Eagle Lewis Grabban should have put the ball in the net after good work by Wes Hoolahan and Jonny Howson down the right but stabbed the ball wide from close range, but his blushes were spared by the linesman.

Then 10 minutes in the striker went closer when Steven Whittaker and Howson played a one-two that allowed the full back to overlap and slide the ball across goal for Grabban who struck the post and watched it bounce back into play.

Having found themselves on the back foot early on, it took Palace half an hour to test John Ruddy but when they did they went so close to taking the lead. Held up in the corner, Jordon Mutch found Pape Souare who lofted in a deep hanging cross for Joel Ward, who headed the ball back into the danger area towards Glenn Murray. The striker managed to prod the chance goalwards but saw it blocked by Ruddy before the rebound spun towards the touchline.

But on 39 minutes after gradually cranking up the pressure in the final third the Eagles grabbed the lead. A ball down the line by Joel Ward was brilliantly controlled by Jason Puncheon who tricked his way past Robbie Brady and again looked for the back post where Zaha was waiting to acrobatically volley the ball on target with Ruddy unable to keep it out of his net.

Three minutes before half-time Mutch had a great chance to double the lead when a wonderful 50 yard pass by Cabaye found the midfielder whose fist touch took him away from Russel Martin and handed him a shooting opportunity but it was beaten away by Ruddy.

Half-time came and went but after the restart the Eagles continued in the same vein and four minutes into the second half they did get their second via a cute set-piece routine. 

Zaha won a corner that Puncheon floated way outside the area for Souare to race onto and head back into the area and found Delaney who was lurking a couple of yards from goal to divert in to score his first goal since scoring in the epic 3-3 draw against Liverpool in May 2013.

The Eagles were indebted to Alex McCarthy though who was forced to pull off a double save a minute later to keep the two goal lead intact, firstly stopping Grabban from a tight angle with his chest before scrambling across his goalline to push away Bradley Johnson’s stooping header.

Looking for something else from his side Alex Neil threw on Cameron Jerome and Redmond and on 68 minutes the midfielder gave his side a glimmer of hope. Picking the ball up 30 yards from goal, he was allowed plenty of time and space to drill the ball into the bottom corner of the Eagles goal and reduce the deficit.
The home fans though they’d managed to draw level four minutes later when a free-kick into the box was only cleared to the edge of the area where Johnson managed to head it back towards goal, and the ball was hooked home by Jerome but his celebrations were cut short as the referee deemed his boot to be too high and dangerous.

Scott Dann was then forced to scramble the ball off the line when Whittaker saw a bouncing volley cause problems in the Eagles box, and Yannick Bolasie nearly sealed the win for his side with two minutes to go when he saw a shot deflect off a Canaries defender but was pushed away by Ruddy.

But the three points were claimed with the game’s final action. Some great play by Connor Wickham allowed James McArthur to slot the ball through for Cabaye to race onto and slam the ball past Ruddy to put the icing on a wonderful afternoon’s work for the Eagles.

Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Brady, Dorrans (Hooper 80), Tettey (Redmond 53), Howson, Johnson, Hoolahan, Grabban (Jerome 53). Subs not used: Rudd, Wisdom, Bennett, O'Neil.

Palace: McCarthy, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, McArthur, Cabaye, Zaha (Bolasie 72), Mutch (Jedinak 72), Puncheon, Murray (Wickham 82). Subs not used: Hennessey, Kelly, Gayle Bamford.

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