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Report: Zaha scores stunner as Norwich deny Palace victory

Norwich City
Pukki 1'
Crystal Palace
Zaha 60'

Wilfried Zaha's spectacular equaliser saw Palace secure a richly deserved point at Carrow Road, after Teemu Pukki had put the hosts 1-0 up in just 39 seconds.

Much had been made of Norwich’s impressive form coming into the match, and their newfound confidence was evident straight away; for Palace, it was the worst possible start.

With their first foray over the halfway line Milot Rashica raced forwards, chipping the ball inside to Adam Idah. His first touch set the ball back to Teemu Pukki, who struck a precise effort on the half-volley that hit the inside of the post on its way in.

Palace prodded and probed but failed to create any real openings in the early period, Wilfried Zaha going closest when he fired wide after being found by Michael Olise’s excellent pass.

It was at the other end that much of the action was taking place. Tyrick Mitchell was crucial for the visitors, producing two stunning pieces of defensive play to prevent what were near certain goals.

Rashica was causing problems on the right once again, floating an inch-perfect ball was towards Pukki at the far post, but in raced Mitchell at the vital moment to nod behind before the Finnish striker could get the final touch.

Moments later he denied Pukki again, as Norwich found themselves two on one advancing on Vicente Guaita’s goal; as the Norwich man prepared to pull the trigger, Mitchell came sliding in to deny him.

Palace had the ball in the back of the net via an astute Jean-Philippe Mateta finish, but he was well offside.

After the restart the Eagles stepped up the pace significantly, and they came close to levelling early on. Olise was the biggest threat, drifting one way and then another against a now cautioned Brandon Williams.

He laid the ball back for Joel Ward whose cross was deflected into the path of Schlupp. Bringing the ball down on his knee he volleyed goalwards, denied only by Angus Gunn’s scrambling save.

In the end it took something quite special to bring Palace level – and on his return to side after international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations it was Wilfried Zaha to provide it. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area, he unleashed a sumptuous curling effort towards the top corner, the ball evading Gunn’s desperate dive and nestling in the back of the net.

It was no more than Palace deserved for their fast start to the second-half, and they were unlucky not to take the lead soon after. It was Zaha the catalyst again, advancing towards the Norwich penalty area and finding Mitchell. The retreating Aarons got his legs in a tangle and brought him down – it was a clear penalty.

Zaha stepped up to add his and Palace’s second, but the pitch gave way at the crucial moment and he slipped, seeing the ball dribble wide.

The momentum remained with the visitors and Hughes twice came close with volleyed efforts, the first requiring Gunn to acrobatically tip over the crossbar.

Norwich had their moments and Gallagher was called into action in his own six-yard-box to head the ball away from goal, but in added time Palace were the side pushing for that decisive second goal.

In the end however time ran out on them, and the points had to be shared.

Norwich: Gunn (GK), Aarons, Gibson, Hanley, Placheta (Gilmour, 64), Rashica, Lees-Melou (Normann, 74), Williams, Pukki, McLean, Idah.

Subs: McGovern (GK), Byram, Zimmermann, Dowell, Tzolis, Giannoulis, Rowe.

Palace: Guaita (GK), Ward, Guéhi, Andersen, Mitchell, Hughes, Gallagher, Schlupp (Eze, 80), Zaha, Mateta (Edouard, 80), Olise (Ayew, 70).

Subs: Butland (GK), Milivojevic, Tomkins, Clyne, McArthur, Benteke.