Palace were forced to settle for a share of the spoils across the Channel as they claimed a 1-1 draw with Metz, with Wilfried Zaha grabbing his first goal of pre-season.
After the Eagles had extraordinarily hit the goalframe three times in the first half, they finally made an opportunity count when Zaha volleyed home on 56 minutes, but they were pegged back thanks to a fantastic strike by Ibrahima Niane 12 minutes from time.
Despite that setback, there were still plenty of positives for Frank de Boer to take from the game with Palace looking dangerous in attack, dominating the majority of the game and also seeing new man Jairo Riedewald get a useful 45 minutes under his belt.
The opening 20 minutes passed by without incident in the French sunshine, but that all changed when the Eagles rattled the woodwork with the encounter’s first opportunity. Finding himself with the ball on the right, Andros Townsend cut back onto his left foot and whipped a deep cross into the box which was attacked by Christian Benteke, but the ball thudded off the corner of post and bar and away to safety from a Metz point of view.
And 10 minutes later déjà vu occurred in the north-east of France as the Belgian was again denied by the woodwork. After Luka Milivojevic hit the wall with a free-kick, Townsend did well to win a corner which was taken by Jason Lokilo, and it fell perfectly onto the head of Benteke who got more power behind it than his first attempt, but ended up with the same outcome.
It took 35 minutes for the hosts to carve out a decent opportunity of their own, and Nolan Roux should have done better after he was picked out by a great cross from the right by Ivan Balliu but the summer signing’s header was comfortable for Wayne Hennessey, but deep into stoppage-time the Eagles again were left frustrated by the goalframe when another fine set-piece delivery by Lokilo picked out Milivojevic at the back post, but he could only divert it against the foot of the post with Thomas Didillon scrambling across his goalline.
The opening goal simply wouldn’t arrive for the Eagles in the opening 45 as the Metz goal lived a charmed life, and it continued to do so after the restart when Zaha dribbled from the halfway line to the byline and squared for Benteke who was a stud’s length from tapping home the opening goal, but on 56 minutes it finally arrived as the pressure finally told.
Skipper Jason Puncheon received the ball in the middle of the park and a sweeping pass released Townsend on the right flank. He drove forward before sending a deep delivery to the back stick, where Zaha was on hand to volley home a low, drilled effort from close range that left Didillon helpless.
That looked to have possibly been enough for Palace to claim the win with Metz struggling to impose themselves in the final third, but with 12 minutes to go they drew level with a fantastic strike from out of nothing. A clearance was nodded backwards by Milivojevic but latched upon by Niane who shrugged off the efforts of Martin Kelly as he raced to the edge of the box, and the 18-year-old unleashed a hammer of a right-footed strike that flashed into the top corner of Hennessey’s net to draw the teams level again.
The youngster was enjoying his first appearance at the Stade Saint-Symphorien and with five minutes to go he headed a Renaud Cohade corner just wide of the mark, and with 90 seconds remaining Townsend showed his threat from the flank again as he crossed for Benteke who also steered a header off target, with the striker a fraction away from claiming a hat-trick, but Palace would have to settle for just the one goal from their afternoon’s work.
Metz: Didillon, Balliu (Rivierez 82), Bisevac, Falette, Assou-Ekotto, Diagne (Philipps 69), Poblete, Cohade, Nguette (Hein 28), Jouffre (Diallo 60), Roux (Niane 63). Subs not used: Kawashima, Niakhaté.
Palace: Hennessey, Milivojevic, Dann (Kelly 61), Riedewald (Tomkins 46), Townsend, Puncheon, Loftus-Cheek (Phillips 70), Van Aanholt (Schlupp 70), Lokilo (Kirby 61), Zaha, Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Wan-Bissaka, Ladapo.