Jason Puncheon picked the perfect time to score his first goal of the season as his wonderful strike finally ended Palace’s 15 game search for a league win against Norwich City.
The winger curled the ball into the net from just outside the box on 68 minutes to provide the game’s one quality moment and clinch a crucial win for Alan Pardew’s men in their bid to avoid the drop.
A sharp blast of the full-time whistle was greeted with a sigh of relief from all the home fans inside Selhurst Park who had waited since December to taste a Premier League win, and lift the doom and gloom in SE25.
The first 45 minutes was a turgid affair with both sides looking nervy and unable to create a clear-cut chance. Showing the effects of their winless run, Palace started slowly and allowed Norwich the better of the opening play, with Jonny Howson testing his luck from 25 yards but fizzing the ball over the crossbar.
But midway through the first half the Eagles slowly began to make an impact in the final third when they forced a corner which Yannick Bolasie lofted towards the back post for Scott Dann but his looping header was easily caught by John Ruddy.
The Canaries continued to put pressure on Palace though and Steven Naismith volleyed goalwards following a good cross from the right by Dieumerci Mbokani but fortunately for Palace Dann was well-positioned to block from close range.
That was as good as the first half got and the second half started in a similar fashion but Palace nearly found a way in front and again it was from a set-piece. Bolasie sent a delivery into the area which was fractions away from head of the on-coming Mile Jedinak, with Dann also unable to turn home the loose ball.
Puncheon then weaved some magic down the left and got to the byline to cut the ball back to Bolasie but he screwed the chance well over, but on 68 minutes he was the man who finally produced the moment of quality that the game had been crying out for.
Joel Ward found himself in possession 25 yards from goal and slipped in the winger, who took a touch to create some space and then brilliantly whip the ball around Ruddy into far corner to register his first strike of the campaign.
Invariably there was a response from Norwich and Hennessey was quickly forced into a good stop when he dealt with a snapshot from Beckenham-born Gary O’Neil, but the game had burst into life and substitute
Wilfried Zaha nearly got on the scoresheet when he flew down the flank, cut inside and shot low but Ruddy was equal to it.
That proved to be the case a few minutes later when Zaha pounced on a slip in the Canaries defence to go on-on-one with Ruddy but again the keeper beat away his vicious blast with 11 minutes remaining.
The goalkeeper found himself in the Eagles penalty area twice in the dying stages as the Canaries threw people forward desperate for an equaliser but it wouldn’t arrive as the 15 game winless run finally evaporated.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Sako (Zaha 64), Cabaye, Jedinak, Puncheon (Ledley 76), Bolasie, Gayle (Wickham 79). Subs: Speroni, Kelly, Lee, Campbell.
Norwich City: Ruddy, Wisdom, Bennett, Klose (Bassong 40), Olsson, Jarvis (Redmond 76), Howson, O’Neil, Brady, Naismith (Bamford 66), Mbokani. Subs: Rudd, Mulumbu, Hoolahan, Jerome.