A first-half blitzkrieg from Crystal Palace ensured that they defeated bottom-placed Norwich City to end 2021 on a high.

Crystal Palace blew Norwich City away in a sensational performance at Selhurst Park that saw the tie being decided by half-time. Both sides went into the game on the back of a poor run of form. The visitors looked up for the challenge and started the match well. Unfortunately for them, Kenny McLean’s poor challenge on Will Hughes helped Palace win a penalty in the eighth minute.

Odsonne Edouard stepped up and made no mistake as he slotted the ball into the net. As a result, Norwich surrendered the early initiative, and they would not get it back for the game’s entirety. Jacob Sorensen had an excellent opportunity to level proceedings but failed to do so. Seconds later, Jean-Philippe Mateta would turn up to double his side’s advantage.

Jeffrey Schlupp took advantage of confusion in the Norwich penalty box to hammer in the third in the 42nd minute. The goal all but killed off the tie and ensured that Norwich went into the break knowing the game was done.

Crystala Palace moved into the top half of the Premier League table one again with the win, giving them something to fight for in the new year. Norwich, meanwhile, look consigned to yet another relegation from the English top flight. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Palace players fared on the night.

Vicente Guaita: 6/10

Guaita had a fairly quiet game but almost fluffed his lines when he flapped at a cross towards the end of the first half. It almost helped Christos Tzolis score for the visitors. Guaita also mistimed a punch from a Norwich free-kick and will be glad that neither of his errors got punished. He redeemed himself with an excellent save from Przemyslaw Placheta around the hour mark.

Tyrick Mitchell: 7/10

The defender looked up for the battle and was always available for a pass. His ability to quickly and efficiently thread through the ball to the attack saw Palace kickstart several counter-attacks. His ball to Edouard in the first-half carved out Norwich for Mateta’s 38th-minute strike.

Joachim Andersen: 6/10

The Danish international showed off his distribution skills and helped play the ball out from the back. Andersen looked solid upon his return but had to be taken off in the second half after picking up a knock. The difference his pace makes to the Palace defence is quite easy to see.

Joel Ward: 6/10

Ward was at hand to prevent to deny Christos Tzolis from seizing on Guaita’s mistake in the first half. The Crystal Palace skipper led from the front and left no stone unturned on the night. It was a physically dominant performance from the 32-year-old who took no prisoners.

Cheikhou Kouyate: 7/10

A dominant performance from the midfielder who appeared to be wherever Palace needed him at any point of the game. He helped stifle the Norwich attack and snuffed out any attack the visitors tried to fashion. In many ways, Kouyate showed just what Palace will miss when he travels to take part in the AFCON next month.

Will Hughes: 7/10

Hughes drew a smart foul from Kenny McLean that won Crystal Palace a penalty in the eighth minute. He put in a real shift on the night and continued to work his socks off all game long. Given the injuries Palace have, Hughes stepped up and did his job right to his credit.

Jeffrey Schlupp: 7/10

Schlupp kept Billy Gilmour silent and was another player who looked assured in the middle of the park. He rounded off a fine first-half performance by the hosts when he slammed home a 42nd minute strike to make the score 3-0. The strike all but killed the game and any resolve Norwich had for a fightback.

Odsonne Edouard: 8/10

Crystal Palace’s star man on the night, the French striker, opened the scoring from the penalty spot and was lively in an exciting opening 45 minutes at Selhurst Park. In the second half, he also played a key role, squaring the ball for Mateta to drive home the advantage and make the score 2-0.

Edouard also used his physicality to hold the ball up in the Norwich penalty area for Schlupp to fire it home. Despite having the game tied up at half-time, Edouard did not stop running in the second period and tried to make things happen. All in all, it was a solid performance from the Palace ace who held the line well in the absence of Wilfried Zaha.

Jean-Philippe Mateta: 7/10

The Frenchman had an early chance to score after being put through by Hughes. However, he fired into the side netting from a difficult angle. Mateta made amends for it by scoring from an Edouard pullback to give his side a 2-0 lead on the night. He, however, had little joy in the second half.

Jordan Ayew: 7/10

The Ghanaian ace put in yet another workhorse like performance and kept running all night. He showed off the silkier side of his game and proved that there is more to him than just being industrious.

SUBSTITUTES

Luka Milivojevic: 6/10

Milivojevic replaced Hughes in the 72nd minute for his first appearance since the home game against Aston Villa in November. The Serb showed off his prowess on the dead ball and made several dangerous deliveries that Palace failed to capitalise on.

Christian Benteke: 6/10

The Belgian produced in a decent cameo and looked to have scored late on. However, his goal was ruled out due to offside.

James Tomkins: N/A

Tomkins came on in the 82nd minute for the injured Andersen. While he did not match the Danish ace’s output, he did enough to help Palace see out the game with minimal fuss.

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