Crystal Palace ended 2021 on a high note on Tuesday afternoon, overcoming Norwich 3-0 at Selhurst Park.
Goals from Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeff Sclhupp gave Patrick Vieira’s side a win that sees them rise into the top half of the table going into 2022, while Norwich were further condemned to what seems like an inevitable relegation.
The visiting side, however, actually enjoyed a surprisingly proactive start to proceedings at Selhurst Park, but Kenny McLean’s sloppy challenge on Will Hughes in the box undid their promising early work as Paul Tierney awarded the hosts a penalty. Edouard stepped up and coolly slotted past Angus Gunn to open the scoring after just eight minutes.
Norwich were contained and put under the cosh for the large majority of the first half and the ten minutes leading up to the interval condemned Dean Smith’s men to their eventual fate, as Crystal Palace entered half time three goals to the good.
Jacob Sorensen ought to have made it 1-1 but fluffed one of his side’s incredibly rare opportunities in front of goal and, just 22 seconds later, Mateta made it 2-0 after completing a devastating counter attack, sweeping home Edouard’s pull back on 38 minutes. Four minutes later, Schlupp got in on the act, snatching the Eagles’ third with a thumping finish following a bit of pinball inside the Canaries’ area.
“Well, if you need a boost, the answer seems to be to play Norwich at the moment,” was the quite remoresless analysis from Amazon Prime Video’s Angus Scott at the break – and so it proved.
Smith’s side picked themselves up slightly after the restart, with Pierre Lees-Melou seeing a venomous volley on course for the top corner blocked by Jordan Ayew and Przemyslaw Placheta seeing a volley of his own saved superbly by Vicente Guaita.
The Canaries, however, toiled in vain to get back into the game as Palace looked unstrained while keeping them at bay. The hosts managed the remainder of proceedings to perfection, seeing out a comfortable and well-deserved 3-0 victory while continuing to threaten the opposition goal.
Christian Benteke thought he’d grabbed his side’s fourth after entering the field of play, although a VAR check spoiled the party. Not overly aggrieved, however, the Palace faithful were able to celebrate a commanding victory.
While Vieira’s side rise to ninth, Smith’s men’s position looks increasingly insurmountable as they languish at the foot of the table, having played more games than all of their direct rivals except Newcastle in 19th.
Here’s how the players rated from Selhurst Park.
Vicente Guaita (GK) – 6/10 – Denied Placheta with a brilliant stop in the second half but was otherwise largely unworked.
Joel Ward (RB) – 6/10 – Picked out some delicious passes either down the flank or sweeping cross-field deliveries to his opposite full-back, and looked more than comfortable defensively.
Joachim Andersen (CB) – 6/10 – Positioned himself well within his own box to make a series of clearances and interventions.
Marc Guehi (CB) – 7/10 – Characteristically velvety with his distribution from the back and proved resolute, notably clearing a Norwich effort destined to hit the back of the net in the first period.
Tyrick Mitchell (LB) – 6/10 – Practically untroubled by Norwich’s measly right wing, making seven tackles on what proved a comfortable afternoon, but couldn’t make an impact on the front foot.
Cheikhou Kouyate (CM) – 7/10 – So strong and destructive at the heart of proceedings, registering five ball recoveries.
Will Hughes (CM) – 9/10 – Sharp-witted, pivotal and omnipresent in Palace’s afternoon. Broke play up brilliantly to make five tackles while also enjoying a creative influence, winning the spot kick that broke the deadlock and making three key passes.
Jeff Schlupp (CM) – 8/10 – Carried huge threat with his movement and ball-carrying when gliding around advanced areas of the pitch, and maintained a brilliant intensity that pinned Norwich back. Deservedly fired home his second Premier League strike of the campaign.
Jordan Ayew (RW) – 6/10 – Typically industrious, pressing incessantly and making three tackles, although somewhat disappointed with his attacking output.
Jean-Philippe Mateta (ST) – 7/10 – Finished well to double his side’s lead – a goal that will do his confidence the world of good.
Odsonne Edouard (LW) – 9/10 – Played central roles in all three of Palace’s first-half goals, clinically converting the first and silkily setting up the second, before his dynamic work created the opportunity for Schlupp’s finish.
Luka Milivojevic (CM) – 6/10
Christian Benteke (ST) – 6/10
James Tomkins (CB) – N/A
Angus Gunn (GK) – 4/10 – Maybe could have done better with Palace’s second but, with what he has in front of him, a clean sheet would have been miraculous.
Sam Byram (RB) – 3/10 – Struggled to really keep up with Palace’s attacking threats and received a first-half booking for a nasty challenge on a breaking Kouyate.
Jacob Sorensen (CB) – 4/10 – Read the game well at times, producing some brilliantly silver screen-worthy defending. Criminally missed a gilt-edged chance that would’ve brought his side level, however.
Ben Gibson (CB) – 5/10 – The most senior and commanding presence in the visitors’ back line, but couldn’t make the unfamiliar quartet gel.
Dimitris Giannoulis (LB) – 4/10 – Brought a bit of intensity into the side and engaged in a decent battle with Ayew. On the balance, however, it was a battle he probably lost before being replaced at half time.
Billy Gilmour (DM) – 5/10 – Set out with ferocious tenacity but, despite making six tackles and trying his best to build progressively, once again looked a little overawed at the heart of the Norwich midfield.
Pierre Lees-Melou (CM) – 5/10 – The most dangerous player in yellow, occasionally showing nice floating movement between the lines – but was just a dim light in a very dark collective.
Kenny McLean (CM) – 2/10 – A stupidly rash challenge in the opening exchanges set Palace on their way to victory.
Przemyslaw Placheta (RW) – 4/10 – Forced Guaita into a stunning stop on the hour mark but, otherwise, failed to produce much of note.
Adam Idah (ST) – 2/10 – Ran a lot. That’s it. That’s the summary.
Christos Tzolis (LW) – 3/10 – Demonstrated some neat feet in tight areas very sporadically but very rarely got in amongst the action.
Brandon Williams (LB) – 4/10 – A few good darts forward but generally not good enough to make an impact.
Jonathan Rowe (LW) – N/A – Not the most ideal situation in which to make your top-flight debut.
Josh Sargent (RW) – N/A