Crystal Palace held to goalless home draw by Brentford

The London rivals contested a stalemate in front of a packed Selhurst Park crowd

George Sessions
Saturday 21 August 2021 17:10
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha (left) and Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos battle for the ball (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha (left) and Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos battle for the ball (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Crystal Palace and Brentford played out an entertaining goalless draw at Selhurst Park to give new Eagles boss Patrick Vieira his first managerial point in the Premier League.

Both teams hit the woodwork during the first half, with Conor Gallagher going closest for the hosts before Bryan Mbeumo also hit the crossbar for the visitors.

It was the first meeting between the sides since 1977 and while six goals had been produced on that occasion, this contest finished as a stalemate with clear-cut chances lacking throughout despite plenty of endeavour from the London rivals.

Selhurst Park was awash with noise before kick-off, with the stadium full again for the first time since the pandemic hit almost 18 months ago, and in the Holmesdale Stand a banner funded by the fans was unveiled which read: “As the soul of Palace returns the terraces come alive.”

There were full debuts handed to Eagles duo Joachim Andersen and Gallagher, the Chelsea midfielder who was ineligible to face his parent club last weekend, while Brentford were unchanged from their impressive opening-day success over Arsenal.

With the backing of the home fans, it was Vieira’s side who started the strongest and they came within a whisker of taking the lead in the seventh minute.

Gallagher and Wilfried Zaha combined excellently on the right, with the latter picking out the midfielder with a well-timed pass, but the loanee saw his curled effort ricochet off the post and onto the crossbar before it bounced to safety.

During the opening half an hour the Palace summer signing had run the show, with his energy too much for the visitors to handle, but Brentford had their moments, with Ivan Toney and Mbeumo dragging efforts wide.

Eventually the Bees grew into the contest and they finished the first period strongly, with Thomas Frank’s men hitting the woodwork themselves when Mbeumo curled a free-kick onto the top of the crossbar in yet another warning sign to the hosts.

The opportunities kept coming for the Premier League new boys and Toney should have opened his top-flight account three minutes after the restart.

Sergi Canos picked him out with a corner, but the forward mistimed his jump and the ball came off his shoulder, which allowed Vicente Guaita to punch clear.

Palace did respond and Christian Benteke headed over from eight yards after Joel Ward had got to the byline as the full-blooded nature of the London derby showed no signs of slowing, after Frank Onyeka once more needed treatment having been mocked in the first half by the home faithful for a spell down injured.

Onyeka was soon replaced but only after teammate David Raya had been forced into a finger-tip save to deny James McArthur’s crisp effort with 21 minutes left.

As the seconds ticked away in south London, the tension increased and Palace wanted Christian Norgaard shown a second yellow late on, but referee Martin Atkinson kept his cards in his pocket as it finished goalless in SE25.

Both clubs turn their attention to the Carabao Cup next week, with Brentford able to host Forest Green with an impressive tally of four points from their first two Premier League fixtures.

Palace head to divisional rivals Watford with Vieira aware of the need for reinforcements despite an encouraging home debut which saw him give plenty of applause as he left the pitch at full-time.

Two goalkeepers were named on the Eagles bench in a clear sign they still have work to do off the pitch during the next two weeks.

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