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September 25 2023 12.26am

Late drama at the Cottage

May 20 2023

Joel Ward celebrates a rare goal for the Eagles

Joel Ward celebrates a rare goal for the Eagles

Crystal Palace battled to a 2-2 draw against Fulham in the penultimate game of the season.

In a clash between mid-table teams at Craven Cottage, it was Crystal Palace who took the lead against the run of play. Odsonne Edouard capitalized on a quick counter-attack, finishing with precision to put the Eagles ahead.

Fulham responded strongly, and their talisman Mitrovic, returning from suspension, stepped up to the occasion. Just before halftime, he converted a penalty, won after Tyrick Mitchell's challenge on Harry Wilson. The Serbian striker showcased his aerial prowess in the second half, meeting Willian's free-kick with a powerful header to complete the comeback for Fulham.

With time running out, Crystal Palace fought valiantly for an equalizer. And it was Joel Ward, who rose to the occasion to score his first goal in four years. From a set piece, his initial effort was saved by Bernd Leno, but he made no mistake on the second attempt, scrambling the ball home and earning a precious point for the Eagles.

The match began with a sense of end-of-season tranquility, with both teams playing for pride. Crystal Palace's safety in mid-table is a testament to the remarkable work done by Roy Hodgson, who has lost only two of his nine matches in charge, steering the Eagles away from relegation danger.

Despite a slow start, Crystal Palace struck first with a clinical counter-attack. Eberechi Eze's incisive pass found Edouard, who displayed composure and accuracy to fire the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

Fulham, however, quickly turned the tide in their favor through the influential Mitrovic. His return to the starting lineup injected energy into the team, and his penalty conversion before halftime restored parity. Mitrovic's second goal, a commanding header from a Willian free-kick, showcased his aerial prowess and looked to secure a victory for the hosts.

But Crystal Palace fought until the very end. Ward's late goal was a product of their determination and resilience, as they exploited poor marking from a set piece to secure a hard-fought draw.

The draw sees Crystal Palace move above Chelsea into 11th place, albeit having played two more games than their London rivals. As the season nears its end, both teams will reflect on their performances and seek areas for improvement.

In the end, it was a pulsating London derby that provided late drama and excitement for the fans. Crystal Palace showcased their fighting spirit, while Fulham demonstrated their progress and resilience throughout the season.

Palace: Johnstone, Ward, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Doucouré, Hughes, Olise, Eze, Ayew, Édouard (Mateta, 80)

Fulham: Leno, Tete, Tosin, Diop, Robinson, Reed, João Palhinha, Wilson (De Cordova-Reid, 80), Cairney (Solomon, 80), Willian, Mitrovic

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