Luka Milivojevic’s second-half penalty rescued a 1-1 draw for Crystal Palace at home to fellow Premier League strugglers Newcastle United on Sunday, as both sides wasted the opportunity to pull further away from danger.
In what was an end-to-end contest for long periods, finishing proved to be the downfall of both teams on numerous occasions, as either could have gone on to achieve victory given the number of openings spurned.
Newcastle, who were without recent loan signing Islam Slimani due to a lack of fitness, just about shaded things in a first half which saw both goalkeepers kept busy at Selhurst Park.
There was little Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal could do about Mohamed Diame’s opener, however, with suspect defending allowing the midfielder to score from the lively Kenedy’s corner.
Roy Hodgson’s men eventually levelled early in the second half thanks to a Milivojevic spot-kick, as momentum swung the way of the resurgent home side.
But their superiority ultimately counted for little, with Newcastle holding on amid a late goalmouth scramble to claim a hard-fought draw which sees both clubs remain just outside the bottom three – the Magpies on 25 points, with Palace two better off.
Newcastle were bailed out by Karl Darlow twice inside the opening 10 minutes, with Ciaran Clark’s positioning questionable in both instances.
Wilfried Zaha was the first to threaten, racing through on goal and overrunning the ball to allow Darlow the chance to smother, before the goalkeeper brilliantly thwarted Christian Benteke in similar circumstances.
But Newcastle responded well and took the lead in the 22nd minute – Diame stabbing in from close range after Palace inexplicably failed to clear Kenedy’s set-piece delivery.
Zaha wasted a chance to level soon after, meeting Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s low cross and shooting at Jamaal Lascelles eight yards out.
Rafael Benitez’s side remained just as threatening, however, and Hennessey was forced into two crucial saves in quick succession in the 32nd minute, denying Kenedy from close range and then acrobatically parrying Ayoze Perez’s 20-yard drive.
Palace finished the half on top and nearly restored parity on the stroke of half-time, as Yohan Cabaye collected Benteke’s lay-off and fired right at the grateful Darlow.
The hosts looked rather more in control at the start of the second half and deservedly equalised in the 55th minute.
Clark was guilty of tugging on Benteke’s shirt at a cross and he was correctly penalised, allowing Milivojevic to convert from 12 yards, despite the best efforts of Darlow.
Palace continued to enjoy the better of proceedings, though Cabaye wasted yet another opportunity just after the hour, shooting well over from the edge of the box.
Newcastle started to look a little overwhelmed at the back towards the end, with Palace piling men forward and seeing two 20-yard efforts from James McArthur and Zaha go just over in the final 10 minutes.
But Newcastle’s biggest escape came three minutes from time, as Benteke saw his header and subsequent follow-up effort both blocked on the line by Clark, denying Palace all three points.
Key Opta facts:
– Crystal Palace have lost just once in their last 10 home Premier League games (W4 D5).
– Newcastle United have collected just two points in their last eight away Premier League games in the month of February (P8 W0 D2 L6).
– Luka Milivojevic is Crystal Palace’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with six goals, and the Serbian has netted five goals in his last 10 appearances in the competition.
– Only Andy Johnson (11) has scored more Premier League penalties for Crystal Palace than Milivojevic (6).
– Palace have conceded the opening goal of the game in 17 Premier League games this season, no team has conceded the first goal more often.