Crystal Palace condemned Norwich to a fifth straight defeat without scoring in the Premier League, running out 3-0 winners.
Norwich started with good intent at Selhurst Park but shot themselves in the foot when Kenny McLean fouled Will Hughes inside the area on seven minutes which allowed Odsonne Edouard to score from the spot.
From that moment on, Norwich wilted as Jean-Philippe Mateta fired home a clinical second for the hosts on 38 minutes before Jeffrey Schlupp followed suit from similar range four minutes later to make it 3-0.
It was an impressive day at the office for Palace – who were without Conor Gallagher and Wilfried Zaha, as well as manager Patrick Vieira – whilst it was more misery for the Canaries as they have gone the entirety of December without scoring.
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Crystal Palace have won their final Premier League game of a calendar year for the first time since 1992, seeing them go above Brighton into ninth place. As for Norwich, they will see out 2021 rock bottom of the league table with a huge task on their hands to survive relegation.
How Crystal Palace cruised to victory
Norwich began well at Selhurst Park, but had the wind taken out of their sails when Crystal Palace were awarded a penalty inside seven minutes.Hughes looked to create space for a shot, but a dangling McLean leg sent the midfielder over. Edouard lined it up and dispatched into the corner, sending Angus Gunn leaping the other way.
After a five minute delay due to the referee’s malfunctioning technology around the half an hour mark, Crystal Palace added their second. It was a good break from the hosts, with Edouard fed down the left. His squared pass found Mateta in the middle, who swept home from close range.
Crystal Palace’s third was not far behind either. Hughes caught Norwich out in possession again, feeding Tyrick Mitchell down the left. His pass found Edouard in the middle, who had three yellow shirts closing in as he laid the ball off for Schlupp on his left. It was an impressive finish from the forward too as he sent the ball across the face of goal and into the far corner.
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Ward (7), Andersen (7), Guehi (7), Mitchell (7), Hughes (8), Kouyate (7), Schlupp (8), Ayew (7), Edouard (7), Mateta (7).
Subs used: Benteke (6), Tomkins (6)
Norwich: Gunn (6), Byram (5), Gibson (5), Sorensen (6), Giannoulis (5), Lees-Melou (6), Gilmour (6), McLean (5), Tzolis (6), Idah (5), Placheta (6).
Subs used: Rowe, (6), Sargent (6), Williams (6)
Man of the match: Jeffrey Schlupp
Norwich had their best chances of the half as five minutes of added time were shown. Vicente Guaita failed to stop a superb cross from Sam Byram down the left, which reached Christos Tzolis just behind. He tried to turn home into an open net, but Joel Ward threw his body in front of the ball to block. Then, Byram sent a header onto the crossbar from Placheta’s free kick as Crystal Palace’s three first half goals went unanswered.
Much like the first half, Norwich started the better, but both goalkeepers were soon called upon. Angus Gunn made a sensational double save just before the hour, firstly stopping Schlupp’s low effort with his legs before a second similar save in quick succession to deny Mateta. At the other end, Guaita leapt to keep out Placheta’s volley that had landed kindly in his path.
- Crystal Palace were without Conor Gallagher, who dropped out of the XI along with James Tomkins and the suspended Wilfried Zaha. Jack Butland also returned to the bench and was replaced by No 1 Vicente Guaita.
- Marc Guehi also returned to partner Joachim Andersen in the centre of defence, with Jeffrey Schlupp and Jean-Philippe Mateta also coming into the side.
- Norwich made wholesale changes. Angus Gunn, Ben Gibson, Billy Gilmour, Kenny McLean and Przemyslaw Placheta kept their spots, with six players coming into the XI. Teemu Pukki and Max Aarons were not part of the Norwich squad, missing out with a mix of injury and illness, along with Todd Cantwell.
Crystal Palace thought they had scored a fourth late on as susbtiute Christian Benteke turned home from close range after Norwich failed to clear a corner. However, he was flagged for offside and the goal was ruled out. VAR briefly checked the decision, but it stood.
However, the damage had been done in the first half despite improvements for Norwich after the break as they end the year bottom of the Premier League.
Man of the match – Jeffrey Schlupp
One of the big questions when the team news dropped was how much Palace would miss the influence and goal threat of Gallagher. Not much it turned out as Schlupp slotted in perfectly to Gallagher’s role at the tip of the midfield, putting in an energetic showing full of quality and attacking intent.
He took his goal in the style of a player very comfortable in the opposition box – one of six shots he had on goal during an all-action 90 minutes. Special mention to Hughes too. His clever passing in the heart of the Palace midfield set the platform for the convincing win.
- Crystal Palace have lost just once and scored 18 goals in their 10 Premier League home games under Patrick Vieira (17 pts), after losing five and scoring just nine times in the 10 before that (11 pts).
- Norwich have scored just eight goals in their 19 Premier League games this season, the joint-lowest tally in a top-flight season after 19 games alongside Leicester City in 1977-78.
- Norwich have conceded six penalty goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Odsonne Edouard was directly involved in three goals for Crystal Palace against Norwich (1 goal, 2 assists), just one goal involvement fewer than he managed in all of his previous 15 games in the Premier League combined (3 goals, 1 assist).
Saturday 1st January 5:00pm
Both teams are back in Premier League action on New Year’s Day. Crystal Palace host West Ham, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm. Norwich will travel to Leicester on Sunday; kick-off 3pm.