Crystal Palace substitute Connor Wickham scored a late equaliser awarded by video assistant referee to deny bottom side Norwich a much-needed victory at Carrow Road.
Wickham’s strike after turning in Wilfried Zaha’s cross was initially disallowed for offside, but a check by VAR showed the striker was being played on by an outstretched Norwich boot.
Palace had struggled to create against a resolute Canaries defence – who remain without a clean sheet at home this season – after Todd Cantwell put the hosts in front after only four minutes.
But Norwich ultimately paid for not scoring a decisive second, having come close several times, with Emiliano Buendia drawing a fine save from Palace keeper Vicente Guaita and Kenny McLean hitting the underside of the crossbar.
A renewed Palace surged forward in search of a late winner but Norwich held firm to avoid further damage.
But the Canaries are now five points adrift at the bottom of the table following Watford’s win over Wolves earlier on Wednesday.
Zaha makes most of rare opening
Zaha was a frustrated figure for most of this game, failing to pick up the ball in space to take on his man and quickly swarmed by Norwich defenders when receiving it in a stationary position.
By cutting out his threat, Norwich seemed to have effectively prevented Palace from creating any clear chances, only for Zaha to prove his worth right at the end.
The Palace winger collected Brandon Pierrick’s neat pass, stole a yard on Max Aarons and fired in an excellent cross for Wickham to convert.
Although the linesman raised his flag for offside, referee Jon Moss quickly consulted VAR, with replays showing that as the ball left Zaha’s foot, Wickham was behind the boot of Norwich’s last man.
After VAR had overturned a goal for Palace against Southampton on Saturday for a marginal call and following other more contentious decisions in Wednesday’s games, this was an example of the technology working efficiently and well.
A point for Palace sees them remain ninth, eight points off the top four.
Norwich needed a second
Norwich looked to be on course for a first league win since November, and to at least keep pace with their relegation rivals, but their failure to convert chances when on top and a brief lapse in concentration mean they are now winless in eight Premier League matches.
The hosts made an ideal start, Buendia slaloming into the area after a one-two with Cantwell and firing in a shot that was deflected back into Cantwell’s path, with the 21-year-old calmly slotting under Guaita.
Palace appealed for offside and VAR was quickly consulted but Cantwell was clearly onside.
Buendia, Cantwell and striker Teemu Pukki tracked back throughout and provided enough outlet to ensure their side did not get drawn into sitting too deep for too long, even when Palace dominated possession in spells.
They were unfortunate not to score again, with McLean almost capping a sublime move but seeing his strike bounce back off the bar and Pukki failing to fashion a chance when one-on-one against Palace centre-back James Tomkins.
Despite a much stronger defensive showing, a brief lapse and a lack of clinical edge has cost Norwich a vital two points as they head in to a run of fixtures against Manchester United, relegation rivals Bournemouth and Tottenham, seven points from safety.
Man of the match – Emiliano Buendia (Norwich)
‘It feels like a loss’ – manager reaction
Norwich manager Daniel Farke to BT Sport: “The lads were brilliant today and Crystal Palace are always well structured and we managed it, but we missed chances in the second half. It is unbelievably disappointing to concede in the 88th minute and it feels like a loss.
“It is difficult to create chances against Palace, it was difficult to find the spaces and we hit the bar from six yards. The lads deserved the three points but the reality is only one.
“We cannot influence the other results. We have to come as close to 40 points and it is a long road. It would have been a massive step today so it feels even more disappointing to concede the late goal.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson to BBC Sport: “It was very close [for the goal]. You think it might be offside and with the technology you see someone has stuck a foot out, leaned forward and the margins are fine.
“We took chances in the end with 4-2-4 and got our reward, the boldness of the move paid off.
“Connor Wickham has been unlucky with injuries – injury after injury, and he has not been available in my time at the club. It was nice he could play again and I am looking forward to seeing him playing on Sunday.”
Canaries keep dropping points from winning positions – match stats
- Norwich have dropped 14 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season (all since the start of December), only West Ham have dropped more (15).
- Connor Wickham’s equaliser for Crystal Palace was his first Premier League goal since netting against Manchester City back in November 2016.
- No English midfielder has scored more Premier League goals than Norwich’s Todd Cantwell this season (6 – level with Dele Alli, James Maddison and Jack Grealish).
- Norwich’s Emiliano Buendía has provided seven Premier League assists this season – only Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (8) and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (12) have registered more in the competition in 2019-20.
- At 18 years and 22 days old, substitute Brandon Pierrick became the second youngest player to feature for Crystal Palace in a Premier League game after George Ndah vs Liverpool in November 1992 (17 years and 341 days).