Unstoppable Zaha strike secures 1-1 draw for Crystal Palace against rivals Brighton
Crystal Palace had Wilfried Zaha to thank after his brilliant strike earned a 1-1 draw against rivals Brighton at Selhurst Park.
Despite being on the backfoot for the majority of the game, Zaha’s stunner secured a point after the home side had gone behind to Neal Maupay’s brilliant finish.
Neither side were able to claim the bragging rights but the visitors will be perhaps more disappointed with the outcome having dominated large parts of the game.
Palace on the other hand will be relieved to have battled back for a point in a match where they were far from their best.
The first major talking point came after 20 minutes when Brighton’s Martin Montoya burst into the box and got off a shot which was parried away by Vicente Guaita.
Despite connecting with the strike, the full back appeared to have possibly been fouled in the process by Jairo Riedewald, however a VAR check ruled in favour of the Palace defender.
The resulting corner saw Lewis Dunk’s header again test Guaita as the visitors sensed an opportunity.
Palace seemed to retreat but managed to restrict their rivals to long range efforts as Yves Bissouma and Pascal Gross both had efforts held by Guaita.
The Seagulls were unable to make this brief spell of pressure count however and the half petered out to a goalless conclusion.
Roy Hodgson would have been disappointed to see his side struggle to get out of their own half in the opening 45 and decided to make a change at half time, hooking Riedewald and replacing him with James McCarthy.
Despite the swap, Brighton started the second half on the front foot once more but it was the home side who almost took the lead in the most unexpected of circumstances during a very rare foray forward.
A swift counter attack saw Christian Benteke on the right hand side, and the Belgian’s mishit cross flew over the head of an unsuspecting Matt Ryan, cannoning off the inside of the post.
The chance seemed to alert Brighton to the fact they needed to make their dominance count and shortly afterwards they found the breakthrough.
Bissouma’s raking cross-field ball found Leandro Trossard whose first time cross from the right evaded a number of players before falling for Maupay to finish emphatically.
It was the Frenchman’s third goal in as many games for the Seagulls and no less than they deserved on the night up until that point.
One almost became two soon after as Guaita failed to hold onto Davy Propper’s teasing cross, dropping the ball at the feet of Maupay who was, fortunately for Palace, not quick enough to double his tally.
As Palace tried to work their way back into the game, Benteke was presented with two opportunities but was denied twice by Ryan - firstly from a simple header and then following a clever turn and shot that the Australian was able to palm wide of the post.
Despite being second best for the majority of the game, Palace were indeed able to conjure an equaliser through their star man, Zaha.
Receiving the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area, the winger cut in on his right foot before a swift change of direction to come back onto his left and blasting the ball beyond Ryan into the roof of the net.
For Zaha, it was his sixth goal in all competitions against Brighton - the most against any opponent he has faced in his career.
Palace were all of a sudden in the ascendancy and Ayew soon found himself with a chance on the edge of the area but could only send the ball high into the stands.
Martin Kelly also went close for the Eagles late on but couldn’t find the target from a tight angle.
Neither side were able to find a winner and the points were shared on a cold night in South London.
The draw moves Palace up to 9th in the table but Brighton remain 13th knowing a win would have taken them about their rivals.
However, both sides will be content to avoid defeat against the other as they enter the busy Christmas period.
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