Dream start for Burley
George Burley got off to a dream start as Crystal Palace held on to secure a thrilling 3-2 win against Leicester.
By Razwan Mirza
Last Updated: 07/08/10 6:09pm
New Crystal Palace manager George Burley got off to a dream start as the club put their summer of financial uncertainly behind them to hold on to a thrilling 3-2 opening day win against Leicester.
The Eagles produced a scintillating first-half display with 17-year-old striker Wilfred Zaha scoring on his debut before Darren Ambrose and Alan Lee piled on the misery for last season's play-off semi-finalists.
The Foxes dominated the second period and almost pulled off a dramatic comeback but goals from Andy King and DJ Campbell saw them fall just short.
Palace boss Burley and his Leicester counterpart Paulo Sousa were making their debuts in their respective dugouts and saw the best and worst of their new charges.
In a sedate opening City's Lloyd Dyer fired a couple of speculative efforts at goal, but the home side started to gain the upper hand due to a greater sharpness and intensity in their passing.
In the 12th minute a dangerous cross from Ambrose narrowly evaded Lee, before Lee just failed to set up Zaha in the area.
The game was developing an end-to-end feel and Zaha raised the excitement levels further when he scored his first senior goal in the 19th minute.
The youngster latched onto Lee's flick on and volleyed superbly beyond hapless Leicester keeper Chris Weale.
Lee was proving a handful for the Foxes defence and he won a free-kick in the 24th minute from which Ambrose cleared the crossbar.
But the former Ipswich playmaker's radar was on target moments later as he doubled his side's advantage. Lee battled away in the channel before giving the ball to Kieron Cadogan who teed up Ambrose to drill past Weale from the edge of the area.
It was 3-0 four minutes before half-time when Cadogan provided a teasing cross and Zaha turned sharply to get his shot off. Weale blocked the initial effort but Lee was left with a tap-in.
Matt Fryatt spurned a golden opportunity to get Leicester back into the game when he put Dany N'Guessan's cross wide from close range.
Dyer then produced a curling 18-yard effort to forced a sharp save from Julian Speroni with the final kick of the half.
The Foxes winger continued to threaten after the break and he fizzed a shot onto the crossbar in the 56th minute.
Moments later the visitors had a lifeline when King rose at the back post to head home Robbie Neilson's cross
Leicester were starting to dominate the midfield battle and this allowed Dyer to once again draw a stop from Speroni before Palace skipper Paddy McCarthy scrambled away Campbell's shot.
Substitute Steve Howard was unsettling the Palace defence, as evidenced when McCarthy and Claude Davis almost contrived to produce an own goal, only for Speroni to tip over superbly.
From the resulting 72nd minute corner Jack Hobbs put a free header wide, but Speroni was called upon again shortly after when King smashed goalwards.
Immediately Palace charged forward on the break and Weale was alert as Ambrose sought to finish the contest.
Burley's men were made to sweat when Davis made a hash of a clearance six minutes from time, allowing Howard in behind the defence and he squared the ball for Campbell to apply the finish.