English Premiership

Puncheon KOs Norwich to end Palace wait

2016-04-09 18:33
Jason Puncheon (AFP)

London - Jason Puncheon's fine goal earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday that ended a 14-game winless run and bolstered their Premier League survival hopes.

Puncheon struck in the 68th minute on a day of quivering nerves at Selhurst Park to earn Alan Pardew's side their first league victory of 2016.

It lifted the FA Cup semi-finalists 10 points clear of danger, having played a game more than third-bottom Sunderland, and to within touching distance of guaranteed survival.

Norwich, who lost German defender Timm Klose to injury in the first half, remain four points above Sunderland -- who receive them next Saturday -- having played two games more.

While Norwich were unchanged from last weekend's last-gasp 3-2 win over relegation rivals Newcastle United, Palace made two alterations, Yohan Cabaye and Dwight Gayle replacing Joe Ledley and Wilfried Zaha.

The hosts made most of the early running, with Cabaye seeing a shot headed away by Norwich striker Dieumerci Mbokani and Scott Dann's header from Yannick Bolasie's corner saved by visiting goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Norwich felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Matt Jarvis went down after being barged to the turf by Damien Delaney, but referee Michael Oliver waved play on.

Fortune abandoned the visitors again moments later when Klose jarred his knee following a challenge on Gayle, for which he was booked, and had to be carried from the field on a stretcher.

Norwich showed more attacking endeavour early in the second half, with Robbie Brady and Steven Naismith threatening.

But after Bolasie had fired narrowly over from Puncheon's cross, the hosts took the lead when Puncheon cut in from the right and curled a glorious strike inside the left-hand post from outside the area.

After Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had repelled a volley from Ryan Bennett, Palace went close to extending their lead, with Ruddy saving twice from substitute Zaha.

Norwich threw the kitchen sink at their hosts in the closing stages, Ruddy twice venturing up the pitch for late set-pieces, but with Brady driving a shot over the bar, Palace survived to claim a precious win.

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