Crystal Palace beat Norwich 1-0 on Saturday afternoon to record their first win in 15 league games and ease the pressure on Alan Pardew. Local lad Jason Puncheon scored the only goal.
Palace made two changes as Alan Pardew brought in Dwight Gayle and the fit again Yohan Cabaye. Joe Ledley and Wilfried Zaha made way and dropped to the bench. Norwich remained unchanged from their dramatic late 3-2 win over Newcastle last time out.
Palace started the better side. Pape Soure burst down the left in the opening minutes but couldn’t find a teammate, while Yannick Bolasie forced John Ruddy into an early save.
The game had a lengthy stoppage in the eighth minute; Dieumerci Mbokani played a one-two with Steven Naismith and then laid it off to Matt Jarvis. His shot hit Palace defender Scott Dann in the jaw from point-blank range, and the physios rushed on. He was ultimately ok.
Jason Puncheon had a great chance midway through the half. A Bolasie cross evaded everyone and wound back up at the feet of Pape Soure. His pass picked out Puncheon whose effort was sliced into a defender from eight yards.
Norwich had a penalty appeal in the 33rd minute. Mbokani played in Jarvis who was shoulder-barged to the floor by Damien Delaney, but ref Michael Oliver rightly waved away the incident.
The last major incident before the break saw Timm Klose leave the pitch on a stretcher. He had tried to tackle Dwight Gayle but came off worse. Sebastien Bassong took his place.
The second half began at a slow pace. Brady hit a tame shot straight at Wayne Hennessey and Steven Naismith lashed a decent chance over the bar. but as the game ticked into the final half an hour it was desperate for a moment of inspiration.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 67th minute thanks to Jason Puncheon – and it was a lovely goal. He picked up a pass from Joel Ward and bent a beautiful curling effort from 20 yards past the outstretched hand of Ruddy and into the bottom corner. Selhurst Park erupted.
The goal spurred the game into life. Zaha went close for Palace and both Howson and Jarvis tested Hennessey. Sadly, however, there would be no further goals and Palace held on for a vital three points.
The result puts Palace ten points clear of Sunderland in the battle to avoid the drop, though they have played a game more. Norwich stay four clear of Sunderland, but they’ve played two games more.
Next up for Crystal Palace is a home tie against Everton next weekend. They then face consecutive away games at Arsenal and Man Utd before their FA Cup semi-final against Watford.
Norwich host Sunderland in a relegation six-pointer next Saturday then travel to Arsenal the following week.