BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace kicked off their pre-season campaign with an entertaining 2-2 draw against FC Helsingor in Denmark.
Goals from Alexander Sorloth and Mamadou Sakho appeared to have won the game after Douglas had given the hosts the lead.
But an own goal by James Tomkins late on meant the Eagles began their tour of Scandinavia with a draw.
Debuts were handed to new goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and January signing Jaroslaw Jach, and it was the latter who was at fault when Palace fell behind within five minutes. The Polish defender allowed Douglas to get free at a corner and the striker headed in from six yards.
But Palace were level 15 minutes later through Sorloth’s first goal in Palace colours. Sullay Kaikai debatably broke the offside trap before bearing down on goal and cutting the ball back for the Norway international to tap into an empty net.
Palace’s first-half performance epitomised that of a team playing their first pre-season friendly. Sparse flashes of quality were blended with lethargy in possession and a few casual errors. Kaikai was the Eagles’ liveliest player in the opening period but his only effort – a free-kick midway through the half – was tame.
It was instead the hosts who were the better side, perhaps aided by the fact they are a couple of weeks ahead of the South Londoners in their preparations. Douglas continued to threaten and Aaron Wan-Bissaka twice had to be on hand to deny the Brazilian a second goal with good blocks.
A host of substitutions on the hour mark changed the game in favour of Palace. Roy Hodgson introduced a stronger team and they took the lead when Sakho prodded home Christian Benteke’s knock down at a corner.
The Eagles were far more positive and energetic in the second half and looked to go forward each time they gained possession. Wilfried Zaha threatened with a couple of driving runs and on one occasion almost slid in Jason Lokilo – but a good interception denied the young winger a run on goal.
Some magical footwork from Zaha in a tight space, wrong-footing a defender with a wonderful flick, provided a chance for Patrick van Aanholt but the full-back – who ended last season prolifically with three goals in as many games – could only find the side netting.
And Palace would eventually rue their missed opportunities when Tomkins put through his own net with six minutes remaining. The centre-back – wearing the captain’s armband following Jason Puncheon’s withdrawal – attempted to cut out a driven cross from the left but could only divert beyond Julian Speroni.
Palace continue their 2018-19 preparations with a visit to Halmstads BK on Monday. Their first game back in England is against Oxford United at Kassam Stadium on July 21.