By Conor O’Sullivan
A second-half Luka Milivojevic penalty ensured Crystal Palace avoided defeat against relegation rivals Newcastle United.
The draw keeps Palace three points clear of the relegation zone in 14th place on 27 points in a game where they dominated the closing stages.
The Serbian’s spot-kick was parried by Karl Darlow into the bottom corner after Palace had trailed following Mohamed Diame’s 22nd-minute goal following calamitous set-piece defending by the Eagles.
Palace almost snatched victory with two minutes remaining when Wilfried Zaha’s inswinging cross found Christian Benteke who had his header blocked on the line by Ciaran Clark before James McArthur’s rebounded effort was cleared by the Irishman.
Zaha had shot over from 18 yards in the 85th minute as Palace wasted a host of second-half opportunities. Yohan Cabaye, McArthur and Benteke were guilty of poor finishing throughout the contest.
Palace could have taken an early lead when Milivojevic played Zaha in with an excellent through ball. The Ivorian failed to get a shot away before Darlow smothered the ball.
After an early effort, ex-Palace striker Dwight Gayle had a quiet afternoon on his return to SE25 as Newcastle sat deeper and deeper in the second half.
Benteke was played in by Patrick van Aanholt after 10 minutes but again Palace were denied by Darlow with the goalkeeper standing up to the striker’s close-range effort. The Belgian won Palace’s 55th-minute penalty following a jersey tug by Ciaran Clark.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah went down after a first half collision in midfield with Kenedy and the stoppage in play seemed to disrupt the Eagles’ momentum after the Dutch international needed prolonged treatment. A few minutes later, he lost Mohamed Diame at a Newcastle corner before the midfielder prodded home from six yards at the back post.
Zaha almost equalised immediately when Fosu-Mensah’s right-wing cross found the 25-year-old six yards from goal but his strike was blocked by a Newcastle defender. Benteke failed to convert from two yards after Darlow’s fine save from Zaha’s deflected effort on the stroke of half-time skidded off his thigh.
Wayne Hennessey prevented Palace going further behind when the Wales international made a fine double save on 32 minutes, first from Kenedy after the Brazilian surged into the box and then a rebounded effort from Ayoze Perez.
Palace pushed for a late winner but failed to create any clearcut opportunities in stoppage time and had to settle for a second draw in five days.