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Unread 06-10-2012, 05:40 PM
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Default Crystal Palace 4-3 Burnley | Championship match report


In the streets surrounding Selhurst Park one slogan proudly advertises the club's philosophy, "Tomorrow's players, today". On Saturday afternoon one such youthful talent lived up to the boast, standing tall among the rest, a Palace academy product and England U21 international, 19-year-old Wilfried Zaha who scored his second double of the week to help convert a 2-0 deficit to an emphatic 4-3 win.

With Palace unbeaten in seven matches you could also add manager Dougie Freedman's name to that list. The 38-year-old spent 12 of his 16 years at the club as a player before being appointed manager just over 18 months ago and has since turned around the club's fortunes — from relegation zone fodder to play-off contenders.

Ironically it was his opposite number, the Burnley manager, Eddie Howe, at 34 the youngest manager in the league, who had been the Palace chairman Steve Parish's original target for the job. How he must thank his lucky stars that he got Freedman instead.

Palace's fifth win in seven games echoed the 3-2 result against top of the table team Cardiff at Selhurst Park just a fortnight ago when the home side had performed a similar miracle, coming back from a 2-0 deficit at halftime. Still the supporters were not quite prepared for the devastation of giving away such a lead so early on in the match.

Selhurst Park was silenced, in shock and disbelief, as their side went 2-0 down after only half an hour. A low murmuring was all that could be heard from the stands as the in-form side took a battering from a team in the bottom half of the table.

The season's biggest crowd, boosted by a family day promotion of children for a quid and photos with Pete the Eagle, hardly knew what to do with themselves as Howe's side cut through the Palace defence without resistance.

The lead came as Chris McCann scored from inside the six-yard box, happily profiting from Junior Stanislas' attempt that had rebounded off the post. Three minutes later and Martin Paterson sent in a looping, almost speculative ball, whirling away to celebrate in delight as it dropped down neatly into the back of the net. The Palace supporters were simply stunned. And it had not even needed the services of top scorer Charlie Austin to inflict the damage.

But the home side's bright start – that included long range efforts from André Moritz and a rampant presence from young winger Yannick Bolasie was not entirely wasted. Instead a brilliant response from last season's Football League Young Player of the Year Zaha halved the deficit.

He latched on to a pitch perfect cross from Moritz before combining skill and pace to expertly nip in front of the defender Kieran Trippier and slot home for Palace. Relief, as well as jubilation, raised the noise levels around the ground as the Selhurst Park faithful sang, "He's just too good for you" about the Ivory Coast-born forward.

But it was the home side who emerged the more fired up from the half-time team talks. Zaha and Moritz combined well to put pressure on the Burnley defence, and six minutes into the second half their efforts paid off with the equaliser.

Another assist from the Brazilian set up Zaha as the teenager shot into the area and nutmegged the goalkeeper Lee Grant for a smooth finish. Zaha's cheeky dance in front of the main stand had the crowd roaring for their homegrown hero.

Thirteen minutes later and Damien Delaney was getting in on the action, scoring on his second attempt. But it was Glenn Murray's goal that sealed the victory, played in by Dean Moxey after a pass from the substitute Jonathan Parr – on for teenager Jonny Williams who had been subbed on and then off with an injury after only 10 minutes. Murray simply tapped the ball into the back of the net to secure the lead.

Burnley were not quite finished. Austin made use of defensive error from the home side, threatening to close the gap, but not quite managing it.
Anna Kessel

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