BY SAM SMITH
Wayne Hennessey was Crystal Palace’s hero as they beat FC Luzern 6-5 on penalties in the opening game of the Uhrencup.
The shoot-out success – which gives the Eagles two points in this pre-season tournament – came after an initial 1-1 draw in normal time.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson opted for an experimental team and they were ahead inside 90 seconds. An excellent team move ended with Max Meyer beating his man and crossing for Christian Benteke who nodded in the Eagles’ first goal of pre-season.
But the Swiss outfit were level just three minutes later when Pascal Schurpf was allowed a free run at a cross to bundle the ball past Hennessey.
It was often clear that Luzern had played four pre-season fixtures before this game. They appeared sharper and quicker than the Palace side – for whom this was their maiden outing in preparation for the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.
Meyer was the Eagles’ best player, popping up in several positions and creating most of his side’s most potent attacks. The German was a sporadic feature in Hodgson’s starting line-ups last season and will hope to be a key figure in Palace’s midfield, particularly if Wilfried Zaha departs.
Alexander Sorloth was one of a plethora of substitutes and missed an excellent chance to put Palace ahead inside the opening five minutes of the second half. Benteke pulled the ball back for the striker, who spent the second half of last season on loan at KAA Gent, but the Norwegian’s effort was tame and easily saved.
The array of substitutions affected the tempo, as is usual in these fixtures, and the second half lacked key action. Jeffrey Schlupp fired well over before Hennessey was forced into two good saves before the game headed to a penalty shoot-out.
Each side scored their first five penalties, before Nya Kirby converted his spot-kick and Hennessey denied Luzern in sudden death.
Palace pre-season games are live on Palace TV for Members at eagles.cpfc.co.uk
PICTURE BY NEIL EVERITT