BY EDMUND BRACK
Despite taking the lead through Christian Benteke, Crystal Palace were forced to settle for a point against Newcastle United, with Callum Wilson’s spectacular overhead kick condemning the Eagles to their fourth straight Premier League draw.
Patrick Vieira made one change to the side that conceded a last-minute equaliser to Arsenal, with 19-year-old Michael OIise making his first top-flight start in place of Jordan Ayew. The Frenchman named Wilfried Zaha amongst the substitutes after he recovered from an illness that kept him out of the Arsenal game.
Here are Edmund Brack’s four takeaways from Selhurst Park:
OLISE’S SUBSTITUTE APPEARANCES REWARDED WITH FIRST TOP-FLIGHT START
After two impressive appearances off the bench, where he made an impact in both games against Leicester City and Arsenal, the 19-year-old was rewarded by Vieira with his first Premier League start.
Starting out on the right, Olise caused Matt Ritchie a severe headache in the first half and drew three Newcastle shirts towards him whenever he drove forward.
It was a piece of Olise magic that nearly gave Palace the lead. After beating Richie and cutting back onto his left foot, Olise whipped in a devilish cross for Christian Benteke, who headed a powerful shot against the post.
Olise was a constant threat until he was replaced by Zaha in the 67th minute.
PALACE CAN’T REAP REWARDS FROM DOMINANT FIRST HALF
Despite having 275 passes and 263 touches more than the visitors and nearly 80 per cent of the possession, the Eagles couldn’t hand themselves the first-half lead. It has become a similar pattern for Vieira’s side – 10 of their 11 goals coming in the second half this season.
The Eagles failed to take their chances in the first 45 against Leicester, Arsenal and Brighton, with the feeling circulating around Selhurst Park that Palace were hard done by not to have picked up all nine points from those three games.
With Newcastle’s only threat coming from the dangerous Allan Saint-Maximin, Palace controlled the game and set the tempo, but just missed the elusive goal.
BENTEKE BULLIED THE NEWCASTLE DEFENCE AT TIMES BUT SHOULD HAVE SCORED MORE
Full of confidence after scoring his first goal of the season against Arsenal on Monday evening, Christian Benteke spent the afternoon bullying the Newcastle defence.
Winning the most aerial battles of any player on the pitch, seven, the Belgian could have had a hat-trick this afternoon – smacking the post in the first half and looping a header onto the bar in the second 45.
His performance was rewarded with a goal in the 56th minute, pictured top. Mitchell sent in a tempting cross towards the back post, and Benteke lept over Ciaran Clark to plant a powerful header past Karl Darlow, sending Selhurst Park into raptures.
The Belgian should have wrapped up all three points for the Eagles, but when collecting the ball unmarked inside the area after a clever dummy from Odsonne Edouard, Benteke lost his confidence and put the ball wide of Darlow’s post.
The forward thought he had scored the winner in the dying minutes. But referee Darren England ruled the goal out for a push from Marc Guehi inside the area.
ATTACKING SUBS COULDN’T FIND A WINNER
With five minutes remaining of the game, Vieira had thrown on Jean-Philippe Mateta, Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp to join Benteke and Edouard in attack as the home side searched for the winner.
It was a gung-ho approach that nearly paid dividends – Benteke’s second goal being ruled out by VAR.
But, in spite of the point, the Eagles need to capitalise on their dominant first-half performances, as they are leaving themselves vulnerable to late equalisers.
The point saw Palace remain unbeaten in their opening five home league games for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
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