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Five Memorable Top-Flight Openers

14 June 2017

With the fixtures now out for the 2017/18 Premier League campaign, Palace fans will be relishing getting back into top-flight action. Here we look back at five memorable opening day encounters from the Eagles’ First Division and Premier League history.

9th August 1969
Crystal Palace 2-2 Manchester United

Palace v Manchester United, 1969

Having been promoted to the top-flight for the first time in their history the previous May, Palace were handed an opening game at home to Manchester United, whose side contained their Holy Trinity of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.

With excitement levels at fever-pitch, a then-Selhurst attendance record of 48,610 was set and the majority of those were sent into dreamland when Mel Blyth netted the Glaziers' maiden goal in the First Division after 11 minutes via a looping header. Charlton equalised for the Red Devils but Jerry Queen netted a debut goal before half-time, only for United to come back again through Willie Morgan and salvage a point from an entertaining affair, which was beamed to the nation on Match of the Day later that evening.

14th August 1971
Crystal Palace 2-0 Newcastle United
Bobby Tambling

The Magpies headed to Selhurst Park having just added future icons Malcolm Macdonald and Terry Hibbert to their ranks, however they would leave south London tasting defeat as Bert Head’s team claimed what would be one of only eight victories all season.

Bobby Tambling (above) opened the scoring before Tony Taylor added a second, however despite this promising showing, goals were hard to come by for the rest of the season for Palace, with just 39 registered in 42 games.

15th August 1992
Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers Simon Osborn

This game marked the dawning of a new era in English football with the birth of the Premier League, and its first topsy-turvy encounter saw Mark Bright open the scoring and Stuart Ripley equalise before Gareth Southgate belted home a fine strike from outside the area not long after the hour mark.

However, just four minutes later Alan Shearer would score the first of his record haul of 260 in the division with an unstoppable half-volley from 30 yards out. With nine minutes remaining he curled the ball around Nigel Martyn to put Rovers in front, however Simon Osborn would head home an equaliser in the last minute to salvage a draw for Steve Coppell’s Eagles.

9th August 1997
Everton 1-2 Crystal Palace
Attilio Lombardo

Off the back of their play-off triumph, Palace were handed a tough start to life back in the Premier League with a trip to Goodison Park, but the Eagles’ marquee summer signing Attilio Lombardo had other ideas, putting the visitors in front before half-time with a neat finish.

After the debuting Italian was then brought down inside the area, Bruce Dyer’s penalty doubled Palace’s advantage on 77 minutes and although a typical Duncan Ferguson header made for a nervous finish for Steve Coppell’s men, they clung on for a memorable victory.

8th August 2015
Norwich City 1-3 Crystal Palace
Yohan Cabaye

Under the management of Alan Pardew, Palace claimed their first top-flight win since returning to the Premier League against the newly-promoted Canaries at Carrow Road, with an acrobatic finish by Wilfried Zaha handing them a half-time lead.

Just after the break, Damien Delaney diverted home a Pape Souare shot, but the two-goal cushion was quickly reduced by Nathan Redmond. Ex-Eagle Cameron Jerome then saw a controversial bicycle kick ruled out for a foul before the Eagles wrapped up the win late on, with their recent record signing Yohan Cabaye netting on his debut in injury-time to seal the points.


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