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Championship: Watford 2 Crystal Palace 2

Crystal Palace produced a superb fightback to claim a point in an exciting 2-2 draw at Watford in the Championship on Friday.

The two sides entered the fixture as the highest scorers in the Championship and goals were expected at Vicarage Road in a meeting of two automatic promotion contenders.

And within 14 minutes, two had already been scored as Gianfranco Zola’s Watford side burst out of the blocks.

Udinese loanee Almen Abdi gave Watford the lead after seven minutes with a superb solo effort, his eighth goal of the season.

Abdi showed his skill to cut inside and he curled a neat right-foot strike from the edge of the area past the despairing dive of Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

It was another loan signing that doubled Watford’s advantage as Chelsea youngster Nathaniel Chalobah headed home.

Chalobah stole in at the far post and made the most of Marco Cassetti’s mishit volley to delight the home fans.

Although they could not pull a goal back before the half-time interval, Palace looked lively and kept Watford goalkeeper Manuel Almunia busy.

Wilfried Zaha, who will join Manchester United at season’s end, was lively down the right flank while Scotsman Stephen Dobbie was proving a handful.

Ian Holloway’s side enjoyed the majority of possession in the second half and as Watford sat back more and more, the visitors began to control the fixture.

They were still two goals down, however, before a scrappy Peter Ramage effort on 66 minutes gave them a lifeline.

And veteran striker Kevin Phillips sent the travelling supporters wild just four minutes later with a superb finish.

The 39-year-old forward, making just his second appearance for the club on loan from Blackpool, met an Adam Richards cross at the far post and his shot wrong-footed Speroni and sailed into the top right hand corner.

Palace looked more the likely to win the game but were forced to settle for a point, a splendid result given the early predicament they found themselves in.

Watford’s failure to win means they did not leapfrog Leicester City and move into second place, with Crystal Palace remaining fifth on the table.

Fri 8 February, 2013
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