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      Report: Palace held to entertaining draw by Brondby

      Crystal Palace
      Rak-Sakyi 35'
      Mateta 50'
      Brøndby IF
      Kvistgaarden 47' 54'

      Goals from Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Jean-Philippe Mateta saw Palace twice lead – but ultimately be held – to an entertaining 2-2 pre-season draw by Brøndby.


      • A number of internationals receive first pre-season minutes
      • Mateta has early header denied by Mikkelsen
      • Palace control possession as visitors look to break
      • Mateta prods wide when played through by Eze
      • Radosevic blazes wide for Brøndby from 12 yards
      • Rak-Sakyi hammers Palace into a late first-half lead
      • Brøndby come close to immediate equaliser
      • Goalmouth scramble sees Ahamada poke wide
      • HT: Palace 1-0 Brøndby
      • Hodgson makes five half-time changes
      • Visitors equalise with first attack of the second half
      • Palace restore lead immediately as Ahamada sets up Mateta
      • Brøndby level moments later, Kvistgaarden again
      • Both sides pour bodies forwards in search of a winner
      • Ayew sees late effort deflect over the bar
      • FT: Palace 2-2 Brøndby

      Having named separate starting XIs for either half of Tuesday’s pre-season opener at Barnet, Roy Hodgson welcomed back a number of his international players for Saturday’s encounter with the Danish giants at the Crystal Palace Academy.

      England representatives Sam Johnstone and Ebere Eze, Mali’s Cheick Doucouré and United States’ Chris Richards all started the game, whilst the Three Lions’ Marc Guéhi and Ghana’s Jordan Ayew entered the fray during the second half.

      Blustery conditions provided the backdrop for a finely-poised first period, with Palace looking to get their foot on the ball and the visitors – pressing high and playing the high winds to their advantage – content to sit back and break at pace.

      If Palace’s play had understandably lacked a little fluency in north London earlier in the week, it was equally delightful in the opening stages of the match, Naouirou Ahamada – at the point of a three-man midfield – heavily involved in several interchanges around the box.

      It was one such flowing move which opened up Brøndby for the first time after just three minutes, Eze’s diagonal ball finding Jesurun Rak-Sakyi inside the box.

      The 20-year-old took a touch to work the ball back onto his favoured left foot before clipping it into a central area, where Jean-Philippe Mateta – stooping to meet the delivery – could not quite generate enough power to beat goalkeeper Thomas Mikkelsen.

      And while the Danish ‘stopper then saved Eze’s curling free-kick, he was beaten by Mateta’s first-time prod after the forward had been played through; unfortunately, the effort also rolled beyond the far post.

      While Palace were on top, it was certainly not one-way traffic, and Brøndby perhaps ought to have taken the lead when a corner broke kindly to Josip Radosevic 12 yards ought, only for the Croat to lash his effort wide.

      The Eagles finally secured a well-earned first-half lead when Ahamada – peeling out to the right wing – played a reverse pass which fell kindly for Rak-Sakyi. The 20-year-old had time to steady himself, look up, and hammer home from the angle on his favoured left foot.

      There was still time for chances at both ends prior to the interval, with rampaging wing-back Sebastian Sebulonsen sliding the ball low beyond the far post, and Ahamada almost scrambling home a first Palace goal from close range.

      A raft of changes were made at half-time by both managers, with Hodgson introducing Marc Guéhi for his first minutes of pre-season.

      But it was with the very first attack of the second half that Brøndby found an equaliser, lively young forward Mathias Kvistgaarden steaming in at the back post to nod home a hanging cross.

      That parity last just two minutes. Ahamada – impressive once again – did superbly to collect the ball on a Palace counter-attack, beat his man to the by-line and clip it back for Mateta to turn home from close range.

      Both teams then enjoyed clear chances: Ahamada fired wide from distance, moments before Ohi Omoijuanfo glanced a header wide from a promising position.

      And an unpredictable game saw the Danes equalise within minutes of going behind, Kvistgaarden again in the right place at the right time to slide home Sebulonsen’s low cross.

      Further Palace changes saw more Academy youngsters introduced, and Jordan Ayew receive his first half-an-hour of pre-season action.

      It was the Ghana international who came closest to scoring a winner in the time that remained, winning the ball on the halfway line and seeing  a deflected effort loop just over the crossbar.

      A succession of late Palace corners followed as the hosts attempted to take advantage of the wind being in their favour but the visitors, to their credit, dealt with the Eagles’ aerial threat well.

      An entertaining 2-2 draw, more minutes distributed across the squad – and another valuable piece of preparation towards the 2023/24 Premier League season.

      Palace: Johnstone (GK) (Matthews, 45), Clyne (O’Brien, 71), Richards (Ward, 45), Tomkins (Guéhi, 45), Mitchell (Ozoh, 62), Doucouré (Hughes, 45), Riedewald, Ahamada (Gordon, 74), Eze (Edouard, 45), Mateta (Ayew, 62), Rak-Sakyi (Boateng, 86)

      As It Happened