Zaha ready to kick-start career
Published 31/08/2014 | 13:37
Wilfried Zaha is confident he can relaunch his career under Neil Warnock after announcing his return to Crystal Palace in style.
The 21-year-old, who joined Manchester United from Palace in a £15million switch in January last year, headed back to Selhurst Park on loan last week having made only a handful of appearances for his new club.
He was introduced as a 70th-minute substitute at St James' Park and was to have the final say in a dramatic conclusion to an eventful 3-3 draw as he demonstrated the talent which attracted United in a thrilling cameo.
Zaha told Palace's official website, www.cpfc.co.uk: "He [Warnock] has come in and said he doesn't want to change too much really.
"He's let us get on with it and told me to do what I do. He's seen me play before, so he allowed me to go out there and express myself.
"I haven't really played too much, so coming off the bench I don't mind because I'm getting my fitness back. But I'm definitely looking forward to starting a few games.
"I had to make the move here because I wasn't getting minutes on the pitch, so coming back here will definitely push my career forward."
Zaha's strike came five minutes into seven minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game, and after he had seen an earlier effort correctly ruled out for offside and been denied twice by Magpies keeper Tim Krul.
He said: "To be honest, I'd missed way too many chances before that, so I'm buzzing to get the goal.
"Since I came back, I've been comfortable and everyone has shown me love around the place. All I need to do is get settled again and get playing. It's always great to play and I feel at home doing that here with players I've played with before.
"I go back home and my dad gives me advice and what I have to do in the next game, so I'm comfortable and I'm happy."
If Zaha claimed the headlines on the pitch, Warnock did so off it as his second spell in charge unfolded in topsy-turvy fashion.
Palace were ahead within 30 seconds when Krul could only turn Marouane Chamakh's shot on to the post and Dwight Gayle slammed the rebound into the roof of the net.
It took Newcastle, who had failed to register in either of their opening two Barclays Premier League fixtures, until the 38th minute to break their duck when full-back Daryl Janmaat bundled home from close range with the help of a series of ricochets and a deflection off Damien Delaney.
However, having started the first half dozily, Alan Pardew's men were guilty of the same offence in the second, allowing Jason Puncheon time and space to tee up Yannick Bolasie's pass before volleying it across Krul and into the far corner.
Minutes after Warnock had turned to Zaha, Pardew handed 18-year-old Rolando Aarons his chance, and the Jamaica-born midfielder very nearly won the game for the home side.
His 74th-minute back-post header after Remy Cabella's corner had flicked off defender Scott Dann restored parity, and when his curling 89th-minute shot came back off the post, Mike Williamson supplied the final touch to claim his first goal in more than five years.
That should have been enough to claim a first league victory of the campaign, but a lack of discipline and concentration handed Zaha his chance, and he took it with aplomb.
Pardew, who has himself considered Zaha as a potential signing in the recent past, was understandably disappointed at the result, but confident for what lies ahead.
He said: "I think we have got a good group. I think we have still got things to do going forward.
"I think against the better teams, we are probably well set, but we need to find ways through - maybe that bottom half of the Premier League is where we are going to have to be a bit more patient and show a bit more quality."
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